Venezuela's government officially withdrew from an international human rights court on Tuesday, fulfilling a plan by former president Hugo Chavez [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro [official profile, in Spanish] tweeted [Twitter page] that the country would withdraw from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) [official website] because the IACHR had allegedly become an instrument to "persecute progressive governments." Venezuela's exit from the IACHR drew sharp criticism [AFP report] from activists such as former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles [BBC profile], who is petitioning the court to hear allegations of fraud pertaining to the April 14 election to replace Chavez. Venezuela is still formally bound by the IACHR for cases filed prior to the date of its withdrawal.
Venezuela's government has had a contentious relationship with the IACHR in recent years. In July 2012 Chavez announced [JURIST report] that Venezuela would withdraw from the IACHR. The announcement came after the IACHR concluded Venezuela violated the rights of a convicted bomber by subjecting him to deplorable prison conditions [Reuters report]. In 2011 Chavez criticized the IACHR [JURIST report] for ruling in favor of presidential hopeful Leopold Lopez allowing him to run for office, despite an earlier ruling baring his candidacy. In June 2010 the IACHR sent a letter [JURIST report] to the Venezuelan government expressing concern over the increasing threat to freedom of expression in the country.