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Amnesty accuses Venezuela government forces of using illegal night home raids to intimidate protesters

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] published a report [text, PDF] Tuesday accusing Venezuelan officials of doing illegal nightly home invasions of individuals suspected of dissent in an effort of intimidation.

AI received reports of 47 illegal home invasions between April and July 2017 in 11 different districts across the country. The raids are believed to have been completed by Venezuelan government security forces and occurred during a period of heightened protests and demonstrations. Shortly after the raids, there were several instances of armed civilians attacking the same neighborhoods telling the locals not to protest.

None of the raids was completed with a court order. By Venezuelan law, a search can only be completed a crime being committed or continuing or in pursuit of individuals in order to apprehend them. However, neither of these conditions was found in the raids completed.

Many of these raids lasted several hours. The raids typically involved riot control weapons and equipment being fired into the homes indiscriminately and many valuables were taken from the homes by the officials. The officials often demanded the inhabitants tell them the whereabouts of young people who participated in the protests.

Some of the actions AI is asking Venezuela to complete include stopping searches without warrants, stopping the use of excessive force, investigating and punishing those who committed the illegal searches, and insuring the investigations are impartial.

Venezuela has seen a significant amount of political unrest after the opposition party gained control of the National Assembly in December 2015. In August the National Constituent Assembly created [JURIST report] a Commission for Truth, Justice and Public Legitimacy that critics claimed would be used to silence opposition. In July Venezuelans voted [JURIST report] to reject a plan to rewrite the country's constitution.

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