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Senator Andreychuk calls for release of political prisoners in lead-up to Venezuela election

Senator Andreychuk today reiterated concerns over the political persecutions of several opposition leaders, just five weeks before Venezuela is to hold highly anticipated parliamentary elections.

“New information brought to light reinforces existing evidence that the imprisonments and barring from public office of several opposition politicians in Venezuela have been motivated by politics, and not the rule-of-law,” said Senator Andreychuk.  

In a video posted to a popular Venezuelan website early last week, prosecutor Franklin Nieves alleged that he was pressured by the Venezuelan government to defend false evidence in the trial of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who was sentenced to almost 14 years in prison sentence in September. Apologizing for his actions, Mr. Nieves confirmed that “Mr. Lopez is innocent” and encouraged fellow judges and prosecutors to “stop being afraid and tell the truth.” Mr. Nieves and his family were later confirmed to be seeking asylum in the United States.

Other high profile opposition politicians currently in prison, under house arrest or barred from public office include: Antonio Ledezma, a mayor of Caracas; Daniel Ceballos, mayor of the municipality of San Cristobal; Vicencio Scarano, mayor of the municipality of San Diego; and Maria Corina Machado, member of the National Assembly of Venezuela.

“Not only do these actions violate the human rights of those targeted, they compromise the democratic rights of all Venezuelans,” said Senator Andreychuk. “The upcoming elections present a critical moment to bring about political and social reconciliation in Venezuela, but without urgent action to ensure they are free and fair that moment will be missed.”

Background

On June 12, 2014, Senator Andreychuk moved the following motion, which was ultimately adopted by the Senate of Canada on March 12, 2015:

That the Senate of Canada take note of the ongoing tensions in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and that it urge the Government of Venezuela to:

1. immediately end all unlawful acts of violence and repression against civilians, including the activities of armed civilian groups, and

2. commit to meaningful and inclusive dialogue centred on the need to:

(a) restore the rule of law and constitutionalism, including the independence of the judiciary and other state institutions;

(b) respect and uphold international human rights obligations, including the freedoms of expression and the press; and,

(c) take swift and appropriate measures to curb inflation, corruption and lawlessness, and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all Venezuelans.

That the Senate of Canada further encourage all parties and parliamentarians in Venezuela to:

1. encourage their supporters to refrain from violence and the destruction of public and private property; and,

2. commit to dialogue aimed at achieving a political solution to the current crisis and its causes.

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Contact: Shaughn McArthur 613-996-4600