[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called for [press release] police restraint on Wednesday to protect protesters' rights in Venezuela. Protests continue in the country against President Nicolas Maduro [official profile, in Spanish], and hundreds of thousands of people held rival protests on Wednesday amid rising political tensions in the country. It was reported that Venezuelan police fired tear gas at the anti-government demonstrators who accused the President of moving towards a dictatorship and called for his resignation. On Tuesday evening, the government activated the "Plan Zamora," a security mechanism calling for the deployment of civilians to fight alongside police and military forces to "preserve public order." Directer at AI, Erika Guevara-Rosas [background], stated that the 'Plan Zamora' may lead to human rights abuses at the hands of armed civilian groups. AI urged Venezuelan authorities to allow citizens to peacefully voice their opinion and to investigate all reports of human rights abuses committed during the protests.
Instability in Venezuela peaked on March 30 when the Supreme Court of Venezuela [official website, in Spanish] dissolved [JURIST report] the opposition-controlled National Assembly and assumed all legislative powers. In January 2016, Venezuela's National Assembly [official website, in Spanish] swore in [press release, in Spanish] three opposition deputies despite a Supreme Court ruling that barred [JURIST report] the induction of the elected lawmakers. The ruling also suspended four elected lawmakers for alleged election fraud in the December sixth elections.