Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Saturday criticized the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) [official website] for ruling in favor of presidential hopeful Leopoldo Lopez, thereby allowing him to run for office. A Venezuelan anti-corruption official had barred Lopez [Huffington Post report] from running for office after conducting a corruption investigation in 2005. Chavez called the IACHR ruling politically motivated [CSM report]. He further claimed that the Costa Rica-based international court is part of a system that protects corrupt behavior and is influenced by the US and the wealthy. The Venezuelan presidential primary election, where voters will select an opposition leader to challenge Chavez, will be held in February, and the presidential election will be held in October 2012.
The Venezuelan government and the IACHR are often in disagreement. In June 2010, the IACHR sent a letter to the Venezuelan government expressing concern [JURIST report] over the increasing threat to freedom of expression [press release] in the country, citing three recent cases that caused particular concern. In February 2010, the IACHR released a report [text; JURIST report] providing a detailed analysis on the state of human rights in Venezuela, which ultimately concluded that not all citizens are ensured full enjoyment of their basic human rights. The top Venezuelan human rights official criticized the report [JURIST report] and said that the report makes unfair characterizations and undermines Venezuelan democracy.