AI INDEX: AMR 53/001/2002     12 February 2002  

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 53/001/2002

UA 42/02 Possible extrajudicial execution/ 12
February 2002

Fear for safety

VENEZUELA Paola Sánchez
Vicky Martínez
Kevin Capote
Gabriela Ojeda
Maury Oviedo
Other transgender people in Valencia, Carabobo State

Killed: Michelle Paz

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of those named above and other transgender people in the city of Valencia, Carabobo State. They have been threatened, attacked and arrested following the murder of transgender activist Michelle Paz (legal name Janny Paz) in Valencia on 11 January, reportedly by police officers.

Two days later, a man in civilian clothes believed to be a police officer fired shots at another transgender activist, Paola Sánchez, (legal name unknown) in the street. She managed to escape unharmed, but a few hours later police entered her house without a search warrant and arrested her. She was released without charge three days later.

Vicky Martínez (legal name unknown) and Kevin Capote, both transgender activists were arrested on 16 January and held for three days at the local prison, La Isabelica. Kevin Capote reported being severely beaten by police officers before being taken to prison.

On 5 February, police officers belonging to the Comando de la Parroquia Catedral, forced Gabriela Ojeda (legal name Ronny Ojeda), a transgender friend of the murdered Michelle Paz, into a police car. She was reportedly taken to the police headquarters, where she was interrogated about the whereabouts of Maury Oviedo, the President of the transsexual organization Respeto a la
Personalidad, Respect for the Personality.

On 8 February the intelligence department of La comandancia General de Policia, the Carabobo Police headquarters, issued a search warrant for Maury Oviedo. In October 2000, Maury Oviedo filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that a police officer had killed transgender person Dayana Nieves (legal name José Luis Nieves), a prominent figure in the transgender community (See UA 247/00, AMR 53/09/00, 18 August 2000). Maury Oviedo is presently in hiding and fears for her life.


Transgender identity refers to a compelling sense that's one's gender identity is not in conformity with the physiological characteristics of the sex one is born with.

Despite Venezuelan law which states that it is illegal for individuals to be arbitrarily arrested unless they are caught committing a crime, Valencia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are at constant risk of harassment, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention by police. The Governor of Carabobo state, Henrique Salas Feo-Römer, has reportedly refused to address the problem.

The commander of police in Carabobo has said that ''los homosexuales y prostitutas en Carabobo tienen que regirse por un código policial, no pueden moverse libremente por la calle'' ''homosexuals and prostitutes are to be ruled by a police code. They cannot move freely in the streets''. In effect, this means that police use administrative detentions widely. The transgendered community believes it is being persecuted for publically denouncing abuse by police to the international community.

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