The Issue

On Friday October 9, 2009 at 10:45 pm, Yonatan Matheus and Omarliv Marques, members of Venezuela Diversa, were arbitrarily detained by Caracas police on Villaflor Street, Parroquia El Recreo (a street where clubs and pubs for LGBTI people are located) when they tried to obtain information from and film the actions of the police.

The police ultimately detained 19 gay and lesbian people, more than 11 of which were minors, confiscating their IDs and cell phones, abusing them verbally referring to their sexual orientation, and beating them. Omar hid his cell phone and was able to call his colleagues and the Ombudsmen Office.

Among those detained were also two men who told the police that they were heterosexual. Unlike the people identified as gay and lesbian, these men were treated respectfully and were allowed to speak by telephone with officials. The activists were left in the middle of Francisco Fajardo highway at 12:25 am along with two minors, and had to walk back to the city center.

The rest of the detainees were taken to to Policaracas quarter #905.

Hours later, the activists met with officials of Ombudsmen Office and explained what happened. The officials then went to the Policaracas quarter to check the status of the other detainees.

This incident is one of many arbitrary arrests carried out against the LGBTI community under the ‘Operation Safe Caracas’ campaign, meant to crack down on crime. The police harass and abuse people whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity differs from social norms.

These detentions are arbitrary under international human rights law and violate the right to life and security, to be free from arbitrary detention, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to be free from discrimination, to equality before the law, to freedom of expression, and to the rights of human rights defenders.

Take action

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1870/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1691

Send a letter of protest to:

Mayor of Municipio Bolivariano Libertador Jorge Rodríguez email: webmaster@caracas.gov.ve

Please also send a copy to: Ombudsmen, Defensora del Pueblo Gabriela Ramírez email: dinternacionales@defensoria.gob.ve

Director of Fundamental Rights of General Attorney of Venezuela Dra. María Mercedes Berthé de Heredia email: mp@fiscalia.gov.ve

Fernando D’Elio – IGLHRC email: fdelio@iglhrc.org

IGLHRC Communications email: communications+action.alert@iglhrc.org Venezuela Diversa Yonatan Matheus email: venezueladiversa@gmail.com

SAMPLE LETTER (English translation) Lea la versión en español » Sr. Jorge Rodríguez Mayor of Municipio Bolivariano Libertador

Dear Mayor Rodríguez:

I am writing to express my deep concern over the arbitrary arrest of 19 gay and lesbian people, including two human rights defenders, Yonatan Matheus and Omarliv Márquez, on October 9, 2009 on Villaflor Street, Parroquia El Recreo, Caracas. These arrests were made by the Policaracas, National Guard of the Ministry of Popular Power for Interior and Justice, who physically and verbally abused the detainees because of their sexual orientation. The human rights defenders and two minors were left in the middle of a highway after midnight and the rest were taken to the Policaracas headquarters to be detained.

As a signatory to many international human rights declarations and treaties, including the the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture (CAT), the American Convention on Human Rights (American Convention), and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture (IACPPT), it is Venezuela’s obligation to ensure that human rights violations are fully investigated and perpetrators are brought to justice.

Arrests, mistreatment, and abuse of LGTB people because of their sexual orientations are clear violations, under these treaties, of the rights to life and security, to be free from arbitrary detention, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to be free from discrimination, to equality before the law, and to freedom of expression (ICCPR Arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 19, 26; CAT Arts. 2, 10, 12, 14; American Convention Arts. 1, 4, 5, 7, 13, 24, 25; IACPPT Arts. 1, 8).

Moreover, the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity specify that, “everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right…to protection by the State against violence or bodily harm, whether inflicted by government officials or by any individual or group (Principle 5).”

Furthermore, arrest or detention on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, whether pursuant to a court order or otherwise, is arbitrary (Principle 7). We respectfully request that: Venezuelan authorities publicly condemn these procedures and conduct a full and fair investigation into them, guaranteeing that the perpetrators have been identified, and punished according to the law. Venezuelan authorities support victims and advocates in their demands for justice regarding these violations. The judiciary and the police, with the help of human rights NGOs, initiate a program to prevent, monitor and follow up on cases involving crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation, as well as providing compensation to the victims.

Authorities do everything possible to ensure that similar situations are not repeated in the future and include the LGTBI community in plans to develop increased security in Caracas. Venezuelan authorities should respect and protect the rights of human right defenders, and of all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. We trust that you will give this issue the attention it deserves.

Sincerely, Name: Organization: Country: ——————- Kathy Mills Web Manager International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission 80 Maiden Lane, Suite 1505 New York, NY 10038 kmills@iglhrc.org P: +1.212.430.6050 F: +1.212.430.6060 http://www.iglhrc.org

Advertisements