Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (12 March) on the arrest of Venezuelan parliamentarian Renzo Prieto:
The human rights situation in Venezuela gives grounds for the greatest concern. Over 9.3 million Venezuelans do not have enough to eat. The medical care situation is catastrophic and basic daily necessities such as electricity, water or access to healthcare are no longer guaranteed in large parts of the country.
The continued attacks by Maduro’s regime on parliament and the independence of the judiciary as cornerstones of any democracy are just as alarming as the fate of the people of Venezuela. The re‑arrest of Venezuelan MP Renzo Prieto is the latest example of the systematic attacks on the National Assembly, the last remaining democratically legitimised state authority in Venezuela. I call on Maduro’s regime to release Renzo Prieto, Juan Requesens, Gilber Caro and Ismael León immediately.
Venezuelan MP Renzo Prieto was arrested on 10 March 2020 despite his parliamentary immunity, which is guaranteed under the Venezuelan constitution. After Juan Requesens, Gilber Caro and Ismael León, Prieto is the fourth member of parliament to be arrested. The immunity of over 20 other members has been lifted. Over ten of them have fled into exile. At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet recently stated that acts of violence against members of the opposition remained commonplace in Venezuela.
Renzo Prieto was arrested by FAES, a special unit of the Venezuelan police. In July 2019, the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for this unit, which has been associated with systematic extrajudicial killings, to be dissolved.