Transparency International condemns the move to co-opt the democratic process in Venezuela
Civil society space must be protected
Issued by Transparency International Secretariat
As Venezuela moves ever closer to a dictatorship with the takeover of Congress by the Supreme Court on 30 March, Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement, calls for a guarantee for the rights of citizens and the protection of civil society.
“Venezuelans are suffering economic and political hardship. The government must not harass those who fight for democratic freedoms, such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” said José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International.
“The fight against corruption in a country becomes harder when democracy is threatened. When power is concentrated in just one pillar of society, corruption flourishes. The Congress was in the process of discussing much-needed anti-corruption legislation. This was an important step in a country where corruption is endemic,” Ugaz added.
“Today the human rights of 31 million Venezuelans are in the hands of one man, President Nicolás Maduro. This lack of separation of powers means that he can enter into contracts without oversight from representatives of the people and he can even request the imprisonment of anyone who disagrees with him. Against this backdrop, corruption can only increase,” said Mercedes de Freitas, Executive Director of Transparencia Venezuela.
Venezuela ranks 166 out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 and scores just 17 on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), indicating rampant corruption.
Transparency International’s chapter in Venezuela advocates for strong anti-corruption measures and has faced significant harassment for speaking out against corruption.
The takeover by the Supreme Court, which is dominated by presidential appointees, of the Congress, which has a majority of opposition members, is an indication that President Maduro is trying to silence any dissenting voices.
Transparency International calls on the Organisation of American States to uphold the principles in the Inter-American Democratic Charter in the case of Venezuela. It is a legitimate instrument in the region that will help to restore democracy in the country.
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