AI Index: AMR 53/004/2003
29 January 2003

UA 32/03 Fear for Safety

VENEZUELA Cesar Emilio Machado (m)

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Cesar Emilio Machado, who has reportedly been the victim of a thirteen-month long campaign of intimidation and death threats by the Municipal Police in Girardot municipality, city of Maracay, Aragua State.

On 9 December 2002 at 2am, members of the Girardot Municipal Police reportedly opened fire on Cesar Emilio Machado's home. He was not injured in the attack although his property was damaged. Since this incident, Cesar Emilio Machado has reported being followed and watched by unknown individuals in cars without number plates.

Members of the Municipal Police have allegedly been behind numerous incidents of threats and intimidation against Cesar Emilio Machado since he was attacked and shot by Municipal Police functionaries in Maracay on 21 December 2001. Machado was shot in the leg and severely beaten by the police, allegedly without motive. While the attack was reported to the state authorities and to the Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) in December 2001, his attackers, whom he identified, have not been apprehended or charged. As a result of the campaign of threats and intimidation, Cesar Emilio Machado has been forced to move house.

Local human rights organizations who have taken up Cesar Emilio Machado's case claim that the attack on his house on 9 December was aimed at stopping him from testifying against the Municipal Police in the preliminary hearing of his case, which was to take place in Maracay on 9 December, but was subsequently postponed.

Many Venezuelan states, including Aragua, Bolívar, Anzóatequi and Falcón, have a history of extra-judicial executions carried out by the police and a failure to protect witnesses and family members of the victims. Both the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights have intervened in many of these cases, requesting that local authorities and the Venezuelan state investigate these crimes and provide protection to those involved. However, the measures requested by the Inter-American System have not, in most cases, been carried out.

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