UN rights chief urges protection for Venezuela opposition after assassination

UN rights chief urges protection for Venezuela opposition after assassination

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday called for [press release] the protection of political oppositions associated with the assassinated Venezuelan opposition leader, Luis Diaz. Diaz was shot while on stage with jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori. Zeid stated that it was unclear whether the shot was meant for Diaz or Tinter, but that all those associated with the opposition leader should be adequately protected. He further urged, “the authorities to ensure that the investigation into Luis Diaz’s murder is independent and impartial and brings to justice the perpetrators, as well as the masterminds behind the assassination. … All sides must refrain from violence and violent rhetoric in the run up to the elections.”

Lopez was sentenced to over 13 years imprisonment for arson, damaging property and inciting violence during anti-government protests [JURIST report] in Venezuela in 2014. Lopez founded and leads the Popular Will Party [party website, in Spanish], which strongly opposes Maduro’s current government and United Socialist Party (USP) [party website, in Spanish]. The government’s actions during the nationwide protests drew strong worldwide criticism for the political violence. A report [text, PDF; press release] by Human Rights Watch in May 2014 claimed that Venezuelan security forces abused and unlawfully detained protesters [JURIST report]. Venezuela officially withdrew from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [official website] in 2013. In February 2014, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned [JURIST report] the political violence and urged the Venezuelan government to respect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.