“We’re defenders of human rights; thus we are not, nor we will be, part of the political diatribe”, stated Alfredo Romero in response to the attacks made against him and the Foro Penal by Jorge Rodriguez, the Venezuelan Communication and Information Minister who, during a news conference held on Sunday, accused the director-president of the NGO of “putting up smoke screens” in a video about the detention of a citizen. “Those (videos) released by those NGOs are intended to cover up assassins” said Rodriguez.
It is not the first time that the Foro Penal has been attacked or threatened, which prompted Romero to ratify that the non-governmental organization he represents will never depart from the Constitution, “which the Venezuelan government indeed does frequently when it does not respect the presumption of innocence, the political freedoms, the due process, the right to defense, and the work of non-governmental organizations in the human rights area” indicated Romero during a news conference held on Monday, September 24, 2018.
He insisted that the non-governmental organizations which focus on human rights are a channel through which citizens of any ideology, without discrimination, can denounce violations of their human rights and obtain protection.
Romero explained that the relatives of a detained citizen, who leads an NGO that protects animals, posted their complaint through a video released on social media. He added that the Foro Penal learned the details of her detention through the communiqué released by the Minister of Communication and Information, as the detainee is being kept incommunicado.
Romero further added that there are 236 political prisoners in Venezuela, 71 of which are military personnel, 35 are women and 3 are teenagers. Two of the prisoners have been issued release orders. And almost all have been publicly convicted by the Executive branch without due process and the right to defense.
On his part, Gonzalo Himiob, vice president of the Foro Penal, pointed out the stringent standards that the members of the NGO follow on the verification of the complaints, which process has been validated by the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
The Foro Penal provides free assistance to those whose human rights have been violated. Its members reiterated their will to continue to provide such vital service to all Venezuelans