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What is Foro Penal?
Foro Penal is a Venezuelan human rights organization, composed of more than 100 well-known lawyers and a group of over 5.000 human rights activists, who dedicate their time and expertise to legal assistance for people without financial resources who are victims of arbitrary detentions that violate due process or are linked to human rights violations, torture, cruel treatment and mistreatment, as seen at the time of the detention.
Foro Penal also helps victims and families of people killed or attacked during peaceful demonstrations. As of today, Foro Penal has directly or indirectly assisted more than 10,000 people who have been attacked, detained or killed.
Board of Directors
The NGO was formally created in Caracas as a civil organization on June 22nd, 2015. Before the creation of Foro Penal, the group of lawyers that founded it, Alfredo Romero, Gonzalo Himiob Santomé y Robiro Terán, had been working since 2002 on the defense of human rights with the organization VIVE (Venezuelan Victims of Human Rights Violations), an NGO that later merged with Foro Penal.
Foro Penal is a Venezuelan organization that defends human rights, which has efficiently worked for more than 12 years in Venezuela, giving free legal assistance and support to victims of arbitrary detentions and their relatives.
Protocols of Action
1) RECEPTION OF COMPLAINTS
The action costless of the lawyers of FPV begins with the receipt of the corresponding denunciation of a violation the DDHH or of an arbitrary detention in our Center of Denunciations. The denunciations, on the national level, are received of three ways:
- Across our three telephonic lines: 0414-2694287, 0412-5568211 and 0412-5568212
- E-mail, across two directions that are monitored constant, that are [email protected] and [email protected]
- Across the format specially enabled in our web page: Formulario Contacto
The center of denunciations is enabled 24 hours of 365 days of the year. FP does not process denunciations or requests done through social networks.
Once the denunciation is received with the complete information of identification, it is requested to the person who denounces to narrate in a brief way the facts that give origin to the denunciation.
In Foro Penal, neither anonymous denunciations are processed, nor denunciations done by minors who are not corroborated and ratified by their legal representatives, nor denunciations of persons whose information of identification should not coincide with those that there contained in the public database of the National Electoral Council.
If a case involves a violation of human rights or an arbitrary detention, and the person affected cannot formulate themselves the request for legal support, it is required that denunciation is requested by a direct relative of the victim or of the arrested, and that they authorize the lawyers who are designated by the FP in their case to assume their defense. Until this authorization is not issued, or until the arrested or interested party does not designate formally any volunteer of the FP as its defender or its lawyer, the FP cannot intervene in the cause.
3)EVALUATION AND NATIONAL ASSIGNMENT OF THE CAUSES
After having fulfilled the previous steps, the denunciation or request of legal free support is submitted at once to the consideration of the lawyers who integrate the National Board of directors, namely, Alfredo Romero Mendoza and Gonzalo Himiob Santomé
At this moment, the facts are evaluated and it is decided if the case constitutes a serious violation to the human rights of the victim or an arbitrary detention. In the affirmative case, the board of directors of the FP designs at once a Regional Coordinator to be in charge of the case. From this moment on, the cause is formally assigned to all offices of Regional Coordination, and the information of contact of the Regional Coordinator is given to the solicitor of support
Additionally, the National Coordinator of Active Defenders (activists not lawyers) is notified, in order to mobilize the activists of the state to which the cause corresponds, to offer the relatives of the victims or of the arrested any logistic (not legal) support they may need.
It is important to emphasize that all this process happens promptly. For this reason the Coordination of Information of the FP, the members of the board of directors, and the Regional Coordinators of every state are always alert, and the Center of Denunciations is permanently available
By request of the interested party or of the Regional Coordinators, the national board of directors can ensemble the team of legal defense on the national and international level.
4) REGIONAL ASSIGNMENT OF THE CAUSES
Once the Regional Coordinator is notified of their assignment, they contact the whistleblowers or petitioners. As soon as they decide the precise nature of the requested assistance, the legal options are analyzed and the preliminary course of action is established. At this moment, every Regional Coordinator designates the members of their team who will be employed for the assigned defense, under the coordination and supervision of the Regional Coordinator and of the Board of directors of the FP.
Normally, in the cases of arbitrary detentions, the legal local work is distributed between three lawyers, given that the Venezuelan Organic Procedural Penal Code (COPP) (Art. 141) imposes this maximum number of defenders for every imputed, defendant or accused. If the case calls for it, a legal international representative can also be designated.
5) LEGAL WORK TEAMS
The legal work teams, considering the profiles of the senior lawyers and assistant lawyers in every region, are articulated in every cause in conformity with what has been established in the previous paragraphs. The identity of all our lawyers can be observed in the lawyers section.
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