The following is the press release issued on August 13, 2018, by the Presidency of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference (VEC), regarding the deterioration of justice in the country.
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- The Country is going through a very delicate situation: there is a desire to establish a spiral of violence and the breaking of Justice is promoted, particularly when all that has to do with it is going beyond the control of the laws and of legal procedures, to be framed in arbitrariness that leads to the physical persecution, intimidation and disregard of the State of Law. As a people, we must affirm that violence, no matter where it comes from, carried out on persons, institutions or the people themselves, must be rejected in all its manifestations. With peace we achieve everything, with violence destruction.
- Last week the VEC’s Justice and Peace Commission affirmed: the apprehensions of parliamentarians, functionaries or citizens based on allegations or presumptions of criminal responsibility, do not entail arbitrary detentions, cruel or inhuman treatment, tortures or forced disappearances, suppositions that in any event attempt against the physical and psychic integrity of Venezuelans.”
- We must remind that in a State of Law, one who is deprived of his freedom is entitled to rights that refer to different spheres (rights regarding physical and psychological integrity, family and social relations, moral integrity, etc.). Hence, this excludes not only all sorts of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, but the conditions of reclusion themselves in a situation of isolation, the total impossibility of communication and the lack of contact with other human beings, which in most cases cause grave psychic and physical sufferings to one deprived of freedom. The dignity of a person and his inherent fundamental rights can never be denied. This is the ultimate essence of justice, which implies fundamentally recognizing that every person — regardless of his origin and condition, race, thought and behaviour –, by the fact of being a person, has the same fundamental dignity.
- Sadly those in the country who feel they have power are using the only weapon of which they have no right: repressive violence. They are violating laws, articulated in the National Constitution and Human Rights, to exercise it. Arbitrary persecution, subjection and prosecution is the component that is being observed, while there is a multitude of people asking for food, medications, electric light, public transport, gas, worthy salaries, <and> a stop to inflation. However, none of this is happening; on the contrary, there is a desire to exercise social control and to promote a stop to dissidence.
- Despite all this painful reality, we cannot succumb either as citizens with rights or as a society seeking well-being. The civic protest, the communal organization, the unity as people, the legitimate claim for the good functioning of the public services that belong to the people, are actions that are advancing. Therefore, we must continue to foment reconciliation and peace, the search for truth and a spiritual discernment that will enable us to assess all information and events that can occur in the country. The task of all is to seek the truth.
- We exhort the State’s security organizations to change their attitude, to understand that we are living moments of great sacrifices and sufferings of our people, their families and their children. Do not repress but, rather, accompany these people who have no other alternative than to seek to be heard in their needs.
May Mary Most Holy, Virgin of reconciliation and peace, look after our people.
Caracas, August 13, 2018
With our blessing.
+Monsignor Jose Luis Azuaje Ayala
Archbishop of Maracaibo, President of VEC
+ Monsignor Mario Moronta Rodriguez
Bishop of San Cristobal, 1st Vice-President of VEC
+Monsignor Raul Biord Castillo
Bishop of La Guaira, 2nd Vice-President of VEC
+ Monsignor Jose Trinidad Fernandez Angulo
Auxiliary Bishop of Caracas, Secretary General of VEC