The current Constitution of Venezuela was approved in 1999 and provided a considerable boost to the protection of human rights and citizen participation. The Preamble states that one of the main Constitutional objectives is to promote civil participation in order to achieve a participatory democracy. More than 100 articles included in the Constitution seek to promote and protect human rights and citizens’ right to participate as the foundation of democratic coexistence and social peace.
Nonetheless, since 2002 the government of Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, extensively modified more than 60 national laws regarding the form and functioning of the State. The basis for this was their proposal to substantively reform the Constitution that was rejected in a referendum held in December 2007. The reform implied the State would monopolize all forms of social organizations and combine them into a new branch of the State called “Organizations of People’s Power”; annul the separation of powers; and militarize State-society relationships under the concept of “Civil-Military Unions”. Even after the reform was rejected in 2007, Mr. Chávez expressed that nothing prevented him from carrying his reforms forward via legislation.
With this new legislation, which has at its center the so-called “Laws of People’s Power”, at least 100 articles of the Constitution were changed and instances of direct participation in public affairs by independent CSOs were eliminated, while other social organizations that were politically affiliated with the government replaced independent CSOs. New regulations were also created to restrict and monitor the activities of independent CSOs, which excluded them from access to public institutions and democratic dialogue with various sectors of Venezuelan society. Independent CSOs also suffered discrimination, criminalization and restrictions on the exercise of freedoms of expression and association.
When the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) was elected in July 2017, “People’s Power” was established based on a new system of “direct democracy” with a regressive connotation that was contrary to the republican and Constitutional principles of democratic sovereignty, full liberties, pre-eminence of the rule of law and separation and independence of the public powers enshrined in the current Constitution. According to the Decree of Convocation and Judgment No. 378 of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), the ANC would personify a “popular constituent process” that has among its purposes the “Constitutionalization of People’s Power”, which is a term derived from the proposal of Constitutional reform rejected by the Venezuelan people in a popular referendum in 2007 but imposed in national plans and norms later denominated “Laws of the People’s Power”.
The concept of People’s Power, as dictated by Judgment No. 378, incorporates in a new Constitution arbitrarily drafted by the ANC all means of participation – representative and consultative – that the people exercise through sectoral and non-elected organizations and that are recognized and duly registered by the Executive to assume the purposes and functions of government as entities inseparable from the state. This has resulted in the nationalization of the people and the suppression of the free and democratic exercise of sovereignty. As dictated by Judgment No. 378: “… the depository of sovereignty is the people (…); but as regards its exercise (of sovereignty) it is necessary to distinguish direct exercise (direct democracy), (…) by the laws of People’s Power (…). In these cases, the people own sovereignty and exercise it directly through people’s power. In that sense, people’s power embodies direct democracy and it would be contradictory to pretend that its ‘expressions’ are chosen as if it were a ‘representation’ of the electoral body. ”
Another law that threatens CSO operations is the “Law for the Defense of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination”, which penalizes organizations working in defense of political rights and participation. The “Organic Law against Organized Crime and Financing of Terrorism” also ambiguously defines terrorism and organized crime so as to possibly prohibit various advocacy activities of organizations or deter their receipt of funding from foreign sources. In addition, the “Law on Registration and Enlistment for Integral Defense of the Nation” requires all associations with legal personality to register in military sub-divisions in order to participate in the “defense and security of the nation” and they must be subordinate to military authorities. Beginning in 2002, the Chavez administration and successor Maduro administration also used criminal charges to punish demonstrators and dissidents, while human rights defenders were attacked and even killed, restricted the right to expression by closing media outlets and harassing journalists, and attempted to cut off financing of CSOs.
Senior officials in the Maduro government have also used the media to stigmatize, discredit and intimidate human rights defenders and organizations that cooperate with international human rights organizations. The government often justifies its actions based on reports by anonymous informers who are called “cooperating patriots”. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the third review of Venezuela in 2015 urged the government to guarantee that all human rights defenders can carry out their work free from any form of intimidation or threat. The unwillingness of the government to comply with these recommendations led to the joint statement “It is time to end televised reprisals against human rights defenders in Venezuela”, signed by UN Special Rapporteurs Michel Forst, Maina Kiai and David Kaye, and Inter-American Rapporteurs Jose de Jesus Orozco and Edison Lanza. Despite this, violations against human rights defenders and their organizations by the government, military and security forces, as well as non-state actors, have intensified in various regions of the country. In 2016, the Constitutional Chamber of the TSJ issued four judgments in which it unconstitutionally attributed powers to regulate the process of renewal of political parties and endorse undue restrictions on their performance, thus violating the right to the freedom of association of all persons and organizations for political purposes.
After the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, the Maduro administration continued many of the same tactics as his predecessor. For example, when there were widespread assemblies against government policies in 2013 and 2014, the government responded with mass arbitrary arrests and torture, according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions in 2015. The Executive and Supreme Court also created new legal regulations to criminalize peaceful assemblies as “violent conduct”. As a result of these severe restrictions, the government of President Maduro responded with a systematic, excessive and indiscriminate policy of repression against peaceful protests in all states of the country, from April 1 to July 31, 2017, in rejection of the “rupture of the democratic constitutional order” declared by the National Assembly and the Attorney General’s Office when the TSJ issued in March 2017, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) issued Judgments 155 and 156, which seriously undermined the democratic order in Venezuela. Judgment 155 of March 28, 2017 contained precautionary measures against the National Assembly for having resolved to endorse the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the OAS to Venezuela.
The TSJ described the National Assembly’s endorsement as a “crime of treason against the homeland” and ordered President Maduro to take measures under the framework of the country’s State of Emergency against anyone who commits the crime of treason without immunity for parliamentarians. Judgment 156 of March 29, 2017 removed all of the legislative powers of the National Assembly and granted them to the TSJ. Measures to crack down on these peaceful protests caused grave violations of freedom of peaceful assembly and human rights, as reflected in the OHCHR Report published on 30 August 2017. There were 124 deaths (52% less than 25 years of age) and 1,958 people injured, according to the Attorney General of the Republic report of July 31, 2017.
The 2009 report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) “Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela” chronicled the deteriorating climate for human rights and the rule of law in the country. Among other issues, the IAHCR cited a “troubling trend of punishments, intimidation, and attacks on individuals in reprisal for expressing their dissent with official policy”. Decision 1,939 of the Venezuelan Supreme Court (TSJ) of December 12, 2008, however, declared as “unenforceable” a sentence by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of May 8, 2008, and requested the Executive to denounce the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) for “usurping functions” of the Venezuelan State. After announcing in 2010 the start of preparations to withdraw from the “slanderous” IACHR, whose members were called a “mafia”, Venezuela carried out a formal denunciation on September 6, 2012. This was written in a Note from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry to Secretary General of the OAS and came into effect in September 2013. Since then, Venezuela has been outside the jurisdiction of the IACHR.
After this, CSOs launched a campaign demanding the resignation of the Ombudsman, who justified Judgments 155 and 156; supported acts of repression against demonstrations; and issued a statement denying the request to dismiss Judgments 155 and 156 that was delivered by the Board of the National Assembly without taking into account the opinion of the Prosecutor. The campaign included a letter that was delivered to the Ombudsman’s Office and received more than 16,000 signatures from individuals and organizations on Change.org.
Faced with these serious developments in the past decade, there have been increasing actions carried out both by domestic and regional actors to pressure the Venezuelan government to end authoritarian measures against the Venezuelan people, although since September 2013 Venezuela has been outside the jurisdiction of the IACHR. Nonetheless, the IACHR issued a statement in June 2016 warning that State of Exception and Economic Emergency decrees provide the president with broad powers that may compromise the respect for the rule of law and separation of powers and lead to unlawful restrictions on the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly. On June 23, 2016, the Permanent Council of the OAS also called for invoking Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC) as requested by the Secretary General of the OAS to start diplomatic actions to address the “serious disruption of the democratic constitutional order in Venezuela” and the “use of public powers to interrupt free association and activities of opposition groups and the media”.
The Permanent Council of the OAS also condemned the break of democratic order through several communiqués and demanded that the Venezuelan State respect and protect the freedom of peaceful demonstration, freedom of expression, due process and personal integrity of demonstrators. In March 2017, the Secretary General of the OAS updated his report, recommending to the member states of the Permanent Council the application of Article 21 of the Democratic Charter for the break of democratic order and the unsuccessful results of the “process of dialogue” led by former presidents Martín Torrijos (Panama), Leonel Fernández (Dominican Republic) and Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (Spain) with the support of the Vatican, started in 2016. Before this report, 14 OAS states issued a communiqué and 18 states requested a new special meeting of the Permanent Council to consider the situation in Venezuela. In April 2017, 17 OAS countries then passed a resolution condemning the “serious unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order” in Venezuela. These States requested a Meeting of Consultation of Foreign Ministers held on May 31, 2017, where three draft resolutions were presented on which no agreement was reached. In a second session of Foreign Ministers, in June 2017, a resolution was not approved and until now a new date for the next session is still open.
In July 2017, the Secretary General of the OAS published a new update of his report emphasizing the systematic nature of human rights violations in the context of the protests and could be considered crimes against humanity according to international laws and designated Luis Moreno Ocampo, former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as Special Adviser for investigations. In August 2017, Venezuela was suspended from MERCOSUR with the application of the Ushuaia Protocol (Democratic Clause). Likewise, in August 2017, the IACHR condemned in a communiqué the installation of the National Constituent Assembly’s unlimited powers that usurped the functions of the parliament and affected the separation of powers and representative democracy. It also announced the decision to prepare a new country report on Venezuela after eight years since the last one was published in 2009.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, through press communiqués and statements made by his spokesman has insisted on the need for government and opposition to engage in a dialogue to reduce tensions and prevent more clashes in a framework of respect for the separation of powers, holding of elections and respect and guarantee to human rights. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, also expressed his alarm at the negative consequences of Judgments 155 and 156 for the separation of powers and reiterated the obligation of the Venezuelan State to guarantee and protect the right to vote, freedom of peaceful demonstration, due process and not to engage in any form of torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading punishments.
In addition, international organizations and governments in America and Europe have expressed their condemnation of the break of democratic order, especially after the installation of the ANC, and the use of the state apparatus to repress peaceful demonstrations. As of September 2017, more than 40 countries, including the 28 States of the European Union, had denounced the ANC and 18 states expressed their support for the Venezuelan parliament. The most important action has been the Declaration of Lima, which was suscribed by 11 Latin American states and Canada and affirms:
- The illegitimacy of the ANC (The 12 countries decided to denounce all decisions emanating from the ANC, considering them illegitimate.)
- Support and recognition to the National Assembly. The signatory countries will only recognize legal acts under the Constitution approved by the National Assembly elected in December 2015.
- Support of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, including demanding compliance with precautionary measures issued by the IACHR.
- The rejection of any act of violence and condemnation of violations of human rights, political persecution, the holding of political prisoners and the violation of fundamental freedoms in Venezuela.
- The condemnation of the government of Nicolás Maduro for not allowing the entrance of medicines or foods to the country to solve humanitarian crisis.
- Support for the continuation of the process of implementation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
- Approval of Mercosur’s decision on the suspension of Venezuela from that community.
- The call to stop the transfer of arms to Venezuela, in the light of Articles 6 and 7 of the International Treaty on Arms Trade.
- Follow-up on the situation in Venezuela until democracy is restored and holding a meeting on the situation in the country at the next session of the United Nations.
In March 2017 the second round of the Universal Periodic Review of Venezuela at the United Nations culminated with the adoption of the Final Report by the Human Rights Council. That report collected 274 recommendations made by 102 States during the interactive session of the Review in November 2016. Compared with Venezuela’s first UPR in 2011, there was a 104% increase in the number of state representatives who participated and 85% in number of recommendations made. Countries also noted that freedoms of association, peaceful demonstration and expression were severely restricted; journalists, students, political activists and human rights defenders were subjected to stigmatization and criminalization, and detainees were subjected to torture and cruel treatment. In addition they noted that the TSJ, the National Electoral Council and the Ombudsman’s Office do not act independently, thus affecting the guarantees of protection of human rights.
|Organizational Forms||Civil Associations and Foundations|
|Registration Body||Subsidiary Registry Office, according to the Venezuelan Civil Code (Article 19).|
|Approximate Number||In Venezuela, the number of organizations currently in operation is unknown. However, in exploratory studies carried out by local organizations, a significant decrease has been observed in the number of CSOs that are active. Of approximately 960 organizations identified by Synergy in 2011, activities did not continue for nearly 60% of them by 2013 due to negative conditions in the legal and operational environment. Nonetheless, between 2013 and 2014, new organizations and networks were founded out of the demand for justice, rule of law and support to a population that suffers from the economic, social and institutional deterioration of the country.|
|Barriers to Entry||Prior approval of a constitutive document is required, and it must be reviewed lawyers. |
There are special legal regimes for the registration of unions, political parties and educational communities.
There are cases of severe delays for the registration of CSOs because of unwritten criteria in legal forms and restrictions on associative purposes, which are enforced by lawyers in registry offices who arbitrarily reject documents without proper justification.
Legislation creates Organisations of People’s Power that carry out functions dictated and regulated by the State. (These are essentially Government-Organized NGOs, or GONGOs)
It is mandatory for CSOs to obtain Unique Registration of Fiscal Information and use it in the application and for tax materials, declarations, invoices and other documents.
It is mandatory for CSOs to register in military districts to participate in the security and defense of the nation.
|Barriers to Activities||CSOs may not carry out activities not explicitly included in their governing documents.|
Except for “Organizations of People’s Power”, CSOs are excluded from the organization or participation in public affairs, which has paralyzed or shut down activities of cultural, educational, environmental and social organizations.
CSOs have been excluded provide legal assistance or representing victims against officials about human rights violations.
There are often public threats by State against CSOs and their members, especiallly CSOs that receive international funding or that have collaboration with international human rights organizations.
There is no guarantee of access to public information and there is a general shortage of supplies, equipment, consistent internet, and water and electricity throughout the country, which severely limits the activities of CSOs.
|Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy||NPOs dedicated to the “defense of political rights” or other “political objectives” are subject to funding constraints that undermine their ability to pursue advocacy. They also are precluded from possessing assets, or receiving any income from foreign sources.|
It is common for the State to engage in intimidation and retaliation against members of CSOs that defend human rights or exercise their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
|Barriers to International Contact||There have been increased threats, intimidation and direct retaliation by the government in the public media, legislation and litigation against CSOs and their members for their cooperation with regional and international organizations that work for the protection of human rights.|
|Barriers to Resources||CSOs devoted to the defense of rights, political participation and social control of public management are subject to a ban on receiving international funding.|
There are restrictions relating to the exchange rate with an accelerated inflation rate (officially 180.9% in 2015).
Any financial activity that might be deemed as suspicious must be reported, even if the source of the funds is legitimate.
Decress of a State of Exception and Economic Emergency allow the suspending of contracts with international cooperation agencies, as such contracts are considered as “foreign interference”.
Only “Organizations of People’s Power” have access to public funding.
Tax exemptions have been eliminated for not-for-profit associations, and educational, academic, sports and scientific institutions do not.
|Barriers to Assembly||Vague language in criminal laws allow the government to criminalize organizations that are critical of the government, thus chilling the freedom of assembly.|
Anyone who disobeys or offends public authorities, obstruct roads, spreads false information that causes panic, helps or conspires with other countries and “terrorist groups or associations or paramilitary, insurgent or subversive groups” can be imprisoned.
Assemblies must be approved in advance by the local government or the Ministry of Defense when in security zones.
Assemblies are not allowed in security zones designated by law, border states under a State of Exception and Economic Emergency and all public spaces prohibited by state and municipal authorities.
All unauthorized assemblies are deemed to be “violent”. Security forces and the military are ordered to disband and use methods and weapons of war in cases of “deadly violence” or “life-threatening” situations.
Conveners, organizers and participants of assemblies are subject to criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for violations of the law.
During Decress of a State of Exception and Economic Emergency assemblies may be restricted throughout the country.
|Population||31,028,637 (2016 est.) (www.INE.gob.ve)|
|Type of Government||Federal Republic|
|Life Expectancy at Birth||Total population: 75.4 years|
Male: 72 years
Female: 78 years (2015 est.) (UNICEF)
|Literacy Rate||Total population: 96.3%|
Female: 96.2% (2015 est.)
|Religious Groups||Nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%|
|Ethnic Groups||Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people|
|GDP per capita||$14,843 (2015 est.)|
Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2015.
|Ranking Body||Rank||Ranking Scale|
(best – worst possible)
|UN Human Development Index||71 (2016)||1 – 169|
|World Bank Rule of Law Index||0.1 (2015)||100 – 0|
|World Bank Voice & Accountability Index||18.7 (2015)||100 – 0|
|Transparency International||166 (2016)||1 – 168|
|World Justice Project Rule of Law Index||113 (2016)||1-113|
|Freedom House: Freedom in the World||Status: Not Free|
Political Rights: 6
Civil Liberties: 5
|Free/Partly Free/Not Free|
1 – 7
1 – 7
|Foreign Policy: Failed States Index||58 (2017)||177-1|
International and Regional Human Rights Agreements
|Key International Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Yes||1978|
|Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1)||Yes||1978|
|International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)||Yes||1978|
|Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICESCR-OP)||No||—|
|Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention||Yes||1982|
|International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)||Yes||1969|
|Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)||Yes||1983|
|Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women||Yes||1999|
|Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)||Yes||1990|
|Optional Protocol to the CRC on involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC-OP-AC)||Yes||2003|
|Optional Protocol to the CRC on sale, prostitution and child pornography (CRC-OP-SC)||Yes||2002|
|Optional Protocol to the CRC on communications procedure (CRC-OP-IC)||No||—|
|International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)||No||—|
|Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)||No|
|Universal Declaration of Human Rights||Yes||1948|
|Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide||Yes||1960|
|International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid||Yes||1982|
|Convention on the Political Rights of Women||Yes||1983|
|Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment||Yes||1991|
|Optional Protocol to the CAT (CAT-OP)||No|
|Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities||Yes|
|Inquiry procedure under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD-OP)||Yes|
|Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951)||No|
|Protocol on the Status of Refugees (1967)||No|
|Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (1954)||No|
|Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961)||No|
|1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees||Yes||1986|
|First and Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty||Yes||1992|
|American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man||Yes||1948|
|American Convention on Human Rights||Denounced||2013|
|Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture||Yes||1985|
|Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women||Yes||1994|
|Inter-American Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons||Yes||1994|
|Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities||Yes||1999|
|Proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples||Yes||1997|
|Protocol of San Salvador: Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights||No||—|
|Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty||Yes||1990|
* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty
The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was adopted in December 30, 1999 through Official Gazette No. 36,860. The Venezuelan Constitution dedicates a considerable number of articles to protecting and stating the importance of the protection of human rights. In relation to the right of freedom of association, the most relevant articles include:
Article 2: Venezuela constitutes itself as a Democratic and Social State of Law and Justice, which holds as superior values of its legal order and actions those of life, liberty, justice, equality, solidarity, democracy, social responsibility and, in general, the preeminence of human rights, ethics and political pluralism.
Article 3: The essential purposes of the State are the protection and development of the individual and respect for the dignity of the individual, the democratic exercise of the will of the people, the building of a just and peace loving society, the furtherance of the prosperity and welfare of the people and the guaranteeing of the Fulfillment of the principles, rights and duties established in this Constitution. Education and work are the fundamental processes for guaranteeing these purposes.
Article 5: Sovereignty resides untransferable in the people, who exercise it directly in the manner provided for in this Constitution and in the law, and indirectly, by suffrage, through the organs exercising Public Power. The organs of the State emanate from and are subject to the sovereignty of the people.
Article 6: The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and of the political organs comprising the same, is and shall always be democratic, participatory, elective, decentralized, alternative, responsible and pluralist, with revocable mandates.
Article 19: The State shall guarantee to every individual, in accordance with the progressive principle and without discrimination of any kind, no renounceable, indivisible and interdependent enjoyment and exercise of human rights. Respect for and the guaranteeing of these rights is obligatory for the organs of Public Power, in accordance with the Constitution, the human rights treaties signed and ratified by the Republic and any laws developing the same.
Article 25: Any act on the part of the Public Power that violates or encroaches upon the rights guaranteed by this Constitution and by law is null and void, and the public employees* ordering or implementing the same shall incur criminal, civil and administrative liability, as applicable in each case, with no defense on grounds of having followed the orders of a superior.
Article 52: Everyone has the right to assemble for lawful purposes, in accordance with law. The State is obligated to facilitate the exercise of this right.
Article 53: Everyone has the right to meet publicly or privately, without obtaining permission in advance, for lawful purposes and without weapons. Meetings in public places may be regulated by law.
Article 57: Everyone has the right to express freely his or her thoughts, ideas or opinions orally, in writing or by any other form of expression, and to use for such purpose any means of communication and diffusion, and no censorship shall be established. Anyone making use of this right assumes full responsibility for everything expressed. Anonymity, war propaganda, discriminatory messages or those promoting religious intolerance are not permitted.
Censorship restricting the ability of public officials to report on matters for which they are responsible is prohibited.
Article 61: All persons have the right to freedom of conscience, and to express the same except those practices affecting personality or constituting criminal offense. Objections of conscience may not be invoked in order to evade compliance with law or prevent others from complying with law or exercising their rights.
Article 63: Suffrage is a right. lt. shall be exercised through free, universal, direct and secret elections. The law shall guarantee the principle of personalization of suffrage and proportional representation.
Article 67: All citizens have the right of association for political purposes, through democratic methods of organization, operation and direction. Their governing organs and candidates for offices filled by popular vote shall be selected by internal elections with participation of their members. No financing of associations for political purposes with State funds shall be permitted.
Matters relating to the financing of and private contributions to associations for political purposes shall be regulated by law, as shall the oversight mechanisms to guarantee propriety as to the sources and handling of such funds. Law shall also regulate political and election campaigns, the duration thereof and spending limits with a view pursuing its democratization.
Citizens, on their own initiative, and associations for political purposes, shall be entitled to participate in the electoral process putting forward candidates. The financing of political advertising and election campaigns shall be regulated by law. The authorities of associations for political purposes shall not enter into contracts with organs in the public sector.
Article 68: Citizens have the right to demonstrate peacefully and without weapons, subject only to such requirements as may be established by law. The use of firearms and toxic substances to control peaceful demonstrations is prohibited. The activity of police and security corps in maintaining public order shall be regulated by law.
Article 70: Participation and involvement of people in the exercise of their sovereignty in political affairs can be manifested by: voting to fill public offices, referendum, consultation of public opinion, mandate revocation, legislative, constitutional and constituent initiative, open forums and meetings of citizens whose decisions shall be binding among others; and in social and economic affairs: citizen service organs, self-management, co-management, cooperatives in all forms, including those of a financial nature, savings funds, community enterprises, and other forms of association guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity. The law shall establish conditions for the effective, functioning of the means of participation provided for under the present article.
Article 132: Everyone has a duty to fulfill his or her social responsibilities and participate together in the political, civic and community life of the country, promoting and protecting human rights as the foundation of democratic coexistence and social peace.
Article 133: Everyone has the duty to contribute toward public expenditures by paying such taxes, assessments and contributions as may be established by law.
Article 134: Everyone, in accordance with law, has the duty to perform such civilian or military service as may be necessary for the defense, preservation and development of the country, or to deal with situations involving a public calamity. No one shall be subjected to forcible recruitment. Everyone has the duty of rendering its services in the electoral functions assigned to them by law.
Article 135. The obligations incumbent upon the State in accordance with this Constitution and the law, in Fulfillment of the States commitments to the general welfare of society, do not preclude the obligations which, by virtue of solidarity, social responsibility and humanitarian assistance, are incumbent upon private individuals according to their abilities. Appropriate provisions shall be enacted by law to compel the Fulfillment of these obligations in those cases in which such compulsion is necessary. Those aspiring to practice any profession have a duty to perform community service for such period, in such place and on such terms as may be provided for by law.
Article 137: The Constitution and the law shall define the authorities of the organs, which exercise Public Power, and the activities carried on by such organs shall be subject to the same. Article 138: An usurped authority is of no effect, and its acts are null and void. Article 139: The exercise of Public Power gives rise to individual liability for abuse or misapplication of power, or for violation of this Constitution or the law.
Article 138: An usurped authority is of no effect, and its acts are null and void. Article 139: The exercise of Public Power gives rise to individual liability for abuse or misapplication of power, or for violation of this Constitution or the law.
Article 139: The exercise of Public Power gives rise to individual liability for abuse or misapplication of power, or for violation of this Constitution or the law.
Article 333: This Constitution shall not cease to be in effect if it ceases to be observed due to acts of force or because or repeal in any manner other than as provided for herein. In such eventuality, every citizen*, whether or not vested with official authority, has a duty to assist in bringing it back into actual effect.
Article 337. The President of the Republic, at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, shall have the power to decree states of exception. Expressly defined as such are circumstances of a social, economic, political, natural or ecological nature which seriously affect the security of the Nation, institutions and citizens, in the face of which the powers available to cope with such events are insufficient. In such case, the guarantees contained in this Constitution may be temporarily restricted, with the exception of those relating to the right to life, prohibition of incommunicative detention or torture, the right to due process, the right to information and other intangible human rights. .
Article 338. A state of alarm may be declared when catastrophes, public calamities or other similar events occur, seriously endangering the security of the Nation or its citizens. Such state of exception shall last for up to 30 days, and may be extended for an additional 30 days. A state of economic emergency may be declared when extraordinary economic circumstances arise, such as to affect seriously the economic life of the Nation; the duration of this state of emergency shall be 60 days, with the possibility of extension for the same period. A state of internal or external commotion may be declared in the event of an internal or external conflict seriously endangering the security of the Nation, its citizens or its institutions. Such state of commotion shall last for up to 90 days, and may be extended for an additional 90 days. The National Assembly has the responsibility of the approval for the extension of the states of exemption. An organic law shall regulate states of exception and determine the measures that may be adopted based on them.
Article 339. The Decree declaring a state of exception, which shall provide for regulating the right whose guarantee is restricted, shall be submitted within eight days of promulgation for consideration and approval by the National Assembly, or Delegated Committee and for a ruling by the Constitutional Division of the Supreme Tribunal or Justice on its constitutionality. The Decree must be in compliance with the requirements, principles and guarantees established in the International Pact on Civil and Political flights and the American Convention on Human Rights. The President of the Republic shall have the power to request its extension for a similar period, and the Decree shall be revoked by the National Executive or by the National Assembly or the latter’s Delegated Committee prior to the indicated date of expiration upon cessation of the conditions which produced them. The declaration of a state of exception does not interrupt the functioning of the organs of the Public Power.
Article 347: The original constituent power rests with the people of Venezuela. This power may be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of transforming the State, creating a new juridical order and drawing up a new Constitution.
Article 350: The people of Venezuela, true to their republican tradition and their struggle for independence, peace and freedom, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon human rights.
National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector
Constitución y códigos
- Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela (1999) con enmienda
- Código Civil (CC) (Civil Code) (1982)
- Código Penal (Penal Code) (2005)
- Decreto-Ley de Reforma del Código Orgánico Procesal Penal (Code of Criminal Procedure ) (2012)
- Código Orgánico de Justicia Militar (Organic Code of Military Justice) (1998)
- Código Orgánico Tributario (Tax Code) (2001)
Decretos de Estados de Excepción
- Ley Orgánica de Estados de Excepción (Organic Law on States of Exception) (2001)
- Decreto N° 3.704 de Estado de Excepción y Emergencia Económica (State of Emergency Act and Economic Emergency) (september 2017)
- Decreto N° 2.849 de Estado de Excepción y Emergencia Económica (State of Emergency Act and Economic Emergency) (mayo 2017). Decreto N° 2.987, que establece prórroga de Decreto N° 2.849 (julio 2017).
- Decreto N° 2.667 de Estado de Excepción y Emergencia Económica (State of Emergency Act and Economic Emergency) (enero 2017). Decreto N° 2.742, que establece prórroga de Decreto N° 2.667 (marzo 2017).
- Decreto 2.452 de Estado de Excepción y Emergencia Económica (State of Emergency Act and Economic Emergency) (september 2016). Decreto N° 2.548 que establece prórroga de Decreto N° 2.452 (noviembre 2016).
- Decreto 2.323 de Estado de Excepción y Emergencia Económica (State of Emergency Act and Economic Emergency ) (may 2016). Decreto N° 2.371 que establece prórroga de Decreto N° 2.323 (julio 2016).
- Decreto Nº 2.184 de Estado de Emergencia Económica (State of Economic Emergency) (january 2016). Decreto N° 2.270 que establece prórroga de Decreto N° 2.184 (marzo 2016).
- Asamblea Nacional: Desaprobación Decreto Nº 2184, del 14 de enero de 2016 (2016)
- Asamblea Nacional: Desaprobación Decreto Nº 2323, del 13 de mayo de 2016 (2016)
- Decreto N° 1.969 de Estado de Excepción en municipios del estado Táchira (Decree No. 1.969 of State of Emergency in municipalities of Tachira) (2015)
- Decreto N° 1.989 de Estado de Excepción en municipios del estado Zulia (Decree No. 1.969 of State of Emergency in municipalities of Zulia) (2015)
- Decreto N° 2.013 de Estado de Excepción en municipios del estado Zulia (Decree No. 1.969 of State of Emergency in municipalities of Zulia) (2015)
- Decreto N° 2.014 de Estado de Excepción en municipios del estado Zulia (Decree No. 1.969 of State of Emergency in municipalities of Zulia) (2015)
- Decreto N° 2.015 de Estado de Excepción en municipios del Estado Apure (Decree No. 1.969 of State of Emergency in municipalities of Apure) (2015)
- Decreto N° 2016 de Estado de Excepción en municipios del estado Apure (Decree No. 1.969 of State of Emergency in municipalities of Apure) (2015)
- Decreto N° 2.071 de Estado de Excepción en municipio del estado Amazonas (Decree No. 1.969 of state of emergency in the municipality of Amazonas) (2015)
- Resoluciones de Restricción de Desplazamiento en los estados Apure y Zulia (Travel Restraint Resolutions in Apure and Zulia states) (2015)
Leyes económicas y tributarias
- Decreto con rango, valor y fuerza de ley de la reconversión monetaria (Presidential Decree on Monetary Reconversion) (2007)
- Ley contra Ilícitos Cambiarios, amended by the Illicit Currency Exchange Law (2010)
- Normas relativas al Mercado de Divisas, resolución del Banco Central de Venezuela, (Resolution by the Venezuelan Central Bank (Banco Central Venezuela) dictating norms regarding the currency market) (2012)
- Ley Orgánica de la Contraloría General de la República y del Sistema Nacional de Control Fiscal. Gaceta Oficial Nº 6.013 (Organic Law of the General Treasury Inspector’s Office of The Republic and the National System of Fiscal Control) (2010)
- Resolución 050: “Normas para Prevención, Control y Fiscalización de las Operaciones de Legitimación de Capitales y el Financiamiento al Terrorismo aplicables en las Oficinas Registrales y Notariales de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela” (Resolution 050 on “Standards for the Prevention, Control and Operations Control Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing applicable in the registry offices and Notary”) (2011).
- Ley de Impuestos sobre la Renta (ISLR) (Income Tax Law) (2015)
- Ley de Impuesto sobre Sucesiones y Donaciones (Law on Taxatio n of Inheritance and Donations) (1999)
- Ley de Impuestos Valor Agregado (LIVA) (Value Added Tax) (as amended in 2007 by the Reforma Parcial de la Ley que establece el Impuesto al Valor Agregado (partial reform of the statute that creates VAT) (1994)
Leyes que regulan la reunión pacífica (4 leyes)
- Ley Orgánica de Seguridad de la Nación (Organic Law on National Security) (2002).
- Decretos Presidenciales de Zonas de Seguridad (Presidential Decrees Security Zones) (2002).
- Resolución N° 08610 sobre “Normas sobre la actuación de la Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana en Funciones de Control del orden público, la paz social y la convivencia ciudadana en Reuniones Públicas y Manifestaciones” (Rules on the performance of the Bolivarian National Armed Force on Assemblies) (2015).
- Ley de Responsabilidad Social en Radio, Televisión y Medios Electrónicos (Law on Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media) (2010)
Leyes que regulan la asociación
- Ley Orgánica Registro Civil (Law on Civil Registration) (2009)
- Ley de Registros y del Notariado (Law on Registration and Notaries) (2014)
- Resolución Nº 019 “Requisitos únicos y obligatorios para la tramitación de acto o negocios jurídicos en los Registros Principales, Mercantiles, Públicos y las Notarías” (Unique and required for processing legal acts or business requirements Major Records, Commercial, Public and Notaries) (2014)
- Ley de Partidos Políticos, Reuniones Públicas y Manifestaciones (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations) (2010)
- Decreto-Ley Especial de Asociaciones Cooperativas (Special Law of Cooperative Associations) (2001)
- Ley de Defensa de la Soberanía Política y la Autodeterminación Nacional (Law of Defense of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination) (2010)
- Ley de Registro y Alistamiento para la Defensa Integral de la Nación (Registration and Enlistment Act for the Integral Defense of the Nation) (2014)
- Ley para Personas con Discapacidad (Law for Disabled Persons) (2007)
- Ley Orgánica de la Educación (Education Law) (2009)
- Resolución 058 de Consejos Educativos (Resolution Education Councils) (2012)
- Ley Orgánica para la Protección de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes (as amended in 2007 by the Reforma Parcial a la Ley Orgánica para la Protección del Niño y del Adolescente)
- Ley Orgánica del Trabajo de los Trabajadores y las Trabajadoras (Organic Labor Law of (Male) Workers and (Women) Workers) (2012)
- Ley Orgánica de Drogas (Organic Law on Drugs) (2010)
- Reforma de la Ley Orgánica Contra la Delincuencia Organizada y Financiamiento al Terrorismo (Organic Law Against Organized Crime and Terrorism Financing) (2012)
Leyes del Poder Popular
- Ley Orgánica del Consejo Federal de Gobierno y su Reglamento ( Organic Law of the Federal Council of Government and its by-law) (2010)
- Ley Orgánica del Poder Popular (Organic Law of “Popular Power”) (2010)
- Ley Orgánica de Planificación Pública y Popular (Organic Law of Public an d Popular Planning) (2010)
- Ley Orgánica de las Comunas (Organic Law of “Communes”) (2010)
- Ley Orgánica del Sistema Económico Comunal (Organic Law of the C ommunal Economic System) (2010)
- Ley Orgánica de Contraloría Social (Organic Law of Social Accountability) (2010)
- Ley Orgánica de los Consejos Comunales (Law on “Community Councils”) (2009)
- Resolución 029-10 sobre Normas para la Adecuación de los Consejos Comunales (Adequacy Standards for “Community Councils”)(2010)
- Ley de Financiamiento del Poder Popular (Financing Law of “Popular Power”) (2014)
- Ley del Poder Popular de la Juventud (Law of the Popular Power of the Youth) (2010 )
Sentencias del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia
Sentencias que regulan la renovación de partidos
- Sentencia N° 1 de Sala Constitucional del 05.01.16, sobre procedimientos de renovación de partidos.
- Sentencia N° 185 de Sala Constitucional del 18.03.16, sobre plazos de renovación de partidos.
- Sentencia N° 415 de Sala Constitucional del 24.05.16, sobre partidos a renovarse.
- Sentencia N° 878 de Sala Constitucional del 21.10.16, sobre nuevo cronograma de renovación de partidos.
- Sentencia N° 197 de Sala Electoral del 15.12.16, sobre inadmisible de recurso contra el CNE.
- Sentencia N° 223 de Sala Constitucional del 28.04.17, sobre sistema biométrico para renovación de partidos.
Sentencias que inhabilitan a la Asamblea Nacional
- Sentencia N° 260 de Sala Electoral del 30.12.15, suspende proclamación de 4 diputados del estado Amazonas por el CNE, elegidos el 6 de diciembre de 2015.
- Sentencia N° 01 de Sala Electoral del 11.01.16, declara desacato de la Asamblea Nacional a la Sentencia N° 260 del 30.12.2015.
- Sentencia N° 03 de Sala Constitucional del 14.01.16, declara incapacidad del parlamento para ejercer sus atribuciones constitucionales de control político de gestión.