The United States remains concerned about the arrest of Venezuelan opposition leader Manuel Rosales. Mr. Rosales was detained by authorities October 15 when he returned to Venezuela after six years in self-imposed exile. A judge has reportedly ordered that Mr. Morales remain in jail until a verdict is reached in a trial scheduled to start November 12.
Mr. Rosales ran against former President Hugo Chavez in the 2006 presidential election. He left the country amid allegations of corruption which he claims were politically motivated. Mr. Rosales returned to Venezuela to be present for the country’s December 6th parliamentary elections.
We call upon the Government of Venezuela to provide Rosales and others in political opposition with the legal protections and due process to which they are entitled.”
The arrest of Mr. Rosales follows the detention of several opposition leaders and reinforces a pattern of criminalizing political dissent by the Venezuelan government. Among those politicians jailed is Leopoldo Lopez, who was sentenced in September to nearly 14 years in prison on charges of having incited people to violence using subliminal messages. The case was called a “travesty of justice” by Human Rights Watch, which said the Venezuelan prosecution never presented basic evidence of a crime.
Speaking to the press about Mr. Rosales’ arrest, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner called on the Venezuelan government “to respect due process for Rosales and all others imprisoned on politically motivated charges. The Venezuelan Government has an obligation,” he said, ”to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by international law.”
Deputy Spokesperson Toner noted that as “a longtime party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Venezuela is required to promptly inform all persons detained of the reasons and any charges against them, and to promptly bring anyone detained on criminal charges before a judge, and to either release them or guarantee them a fair and public trial before an independent and impartial tribunal…Consistent with the values and the spirit of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, we call upon the Government of Venezuela to provide Rosales and others in political opposition with the legal protections and due process to which they are entitled.”