Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Further misuse of military courts in Venezuela

The other day, Global Military Justice Reform ran an excellent report by contributor Prof. Christina Cerna on a recent and regrettable decision of the Supreme Court of Venezuela. Juan Bautista Salas, writing here for El Impulso, adds to the story of the court's failure to shut the door completely on the trial of civilians by military courts. He concludes:

The use of military justice against civilians in Venezuela has a long history, but it became common especially in the mass protests of 2017, in which the government, to silence protesters, used this jurisdiction extensively. Those who have ended up before a military judge have not only not seen their judicial guarantees respected, but have also been victims of torture and mistreatment, as confirmed by the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission about Venezuela.

The hesitant attitude of the TSJ on this matter opens the doors for more citizens to end up before an instance totally controlled by the national Executive, since the military judges are not chosen by the TSJ as mandated by the Constitution but by the Ministry of Popular Power for the Defense, as we denounced in a study carried out on the matter, warns Access to Justice.

Human rights jurisprudence strongly disfavors the trial of civilians by military courts. Some states are persistent violators of this core principle. Prime examples include Uganda, Egypt, Lebanon, Russia, and Venezuela.

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