Sunday, February 21, 2021

Questionable Venezuelan Supreme Court decision

The jurisprudence of the Inter-American human rights system has established that all crimes involving violations of human rights must be tried in ordinary criminal courts even if the perpetrator is a member of the armed forces because military courts do not satisfy the requirements of impartiality and independence required by the due process provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights.  The military justice system is reserved exclusively to try members of the military in active service for the alleged perpetration of strictly service-related offenses.

Article 261 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela provides in relevant part that "The commission of common crimes, violations of human rights and crimes against humanity will be judged by ordinary courts.  The jurisdiction of military courts is limited to crimes of a military nature."  The non-governmental organization "Access to Justice" (Acceso a la Justicia) denounced that the Constitutional Chamber of the Venezuelan Supreme Court, in Judgment No. 246, issued on December 14, 2020, has established again that military courts have jurisdiction to try civilians.  Despite the explicit constitutional prohibition on military courts trying civilians, the Constitutional Chamber held that in certain circumstances it is permissible, marking a retrogression in human rights protection in Venezuela.

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