Amnesty International called on Tuesday for the release of about 300 people being held in Venezuela for political reasons, slamming the country’s “politically-motivated arbitrary detentions”.
In a new report, Amnesty said the detentions were used to silence “those who dissent from the government of Nicolas Maduro or for other political purposes.”
The group identified patterns in the detentions that included arrests without warrants, a “lack of judicial independence”, use of “ambiguous” laws, and “incommunicado detention and isolation of detainees.”
Rights groups estimate there are about 300 political prisoners in Venezuela, including nine cases Amnesty said are “emblematic” of abuses in the penal system.
The imprisonments were meant to send a “message of intimidation, often aimed at family members or people close to those who are being repressed,” Amnesty said in the report on detentions between 2018 and 2023.
“The rights to freedom, to a fair trial, to integrity and freedom from torture or ill-treatment are often violated through these practices,” it said.
One highlighted case was that of Javier Tarazona, founder of the FundaRedes rights group, who was arrested in 2021 and charged with “terrorism” after accusing the Maduro government of links to the Colombian guerrilla group ELN.
Amnesty called on Venezuela to release all political detainees and urged the international community to demand guarantees to prevent such practices from being repeated.
It also called on the International Criminal Court to include the cases in its investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed by Maduro’s administration.