Posts Tagged ‘Minister’

Humberto Prado Sifontes in Venezuela falsely accused by Minister

April 10, 2013

On 8 April 2013, the Minister for the Prison Services, Ms Iris Valera, accused prominent human rights defender, Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes, of instigating violence within the country’s prisons ahead of upcoming elections on 14 April. Humberto Prado Sifontes is the Director of the Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones – OVP (Venezuelan Prisons Observatory) which documents cases of violations against persons in detention in Venezuela.

At a press conference at her office,the Minister stated that on 3 April Humberto Prado Sifontes had met with the families of prisoners in the Comunidad Penitenciaria de Coro. The Minister accused the human rights defender of planning protest actions within prisons all over the country, beginning with hunger strikes before escalating to blood strikes, where prisoners self-mutilate in order to bring attention to their situation. She alleged that Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes quickly departed from the Plaza and went to the Diocesan of the Archbishop when he noticed the presence of officials from the Ministry of Prison Services who were there to investigate what was going on. She claimed to have found evidence for these plans in the notebooks of a prisoner. Minister Valera also linked the human rights defender to two unrelated incidents; one in which five women tried to smuggle grenades into the same prison, and a foiled escape attempt at the Metropolitan Prison Yare II in Caracas. Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes was in fact in Coro to participate in two conferences organised by the University of Falcón. When the families of the prisoners heard of his presence in the State, they arranged to meet him in order to give him photographic and video evidence of torture in the prison.

In 2009 Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes was the winner of the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela’s first human rights award. Front Line Defenders has previously issued appeals to protect him in his peaceful and legitimate work on behalf of prisoner’s human rights in Venezuela. Given the political climate in the run-up to elections in Venezuela, Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned that statements such as those made by the Minister could lead to reprisals against the human rights defender, up to and including physical attack.  Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped