UN Experts Criticize Chávez for Judicial Crackdown

I know that we try to put all our Venezuela news over on the other blog these days unless it has something to do with Russia, this is still some pretty dramatic news from Robert Amsterdam’s case down there, holding down the front pages of the UN News Centre and other international publications.  [As a side note, it is interesting to note the parallel developments between Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela and Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  They are both very fond of jailing lawyers who are peripherally involved with political cases.  So far Venezuela’s lawyer hostage has survived, but the same can’t be said for Russia.]

From Reuters:

Three U.N. human rights experts on Wednesday accused President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela of creating a climate of fear among his country’s legal profession with the arrest last week of a woman judge.

The three, all from developing countries, said Judge Maria LourdesAfiuni was seized by police on December 10, a day after she ordered theconditional release of long-detained opposition politician EligioCedeno.

“Reprisals for exercising their constitutionally guaranteedfunctions and creating a climate of fear among the judiciary andlawyers’ profession serve no purpose except to undermine the rule oflaw and obstruct justice,” they said in a statement.

Opposition leaders often accuse the populist president of trying toreduce constitutional freedoms, but the former paratrooper argues thatopponents work secretly with the United States to try and overthrow hiselected government.

According to the statement, issued by the United Nations in Geneva,Judge Afiuni had based her decision to free Cedeno on a finding by theworld body’s working group on arbitrary detention in September that hisright to a free trial was being violated.