During the night of January 6th, 2021, the Presidential Commission for Human Rights and Attention to Victims of the Interim Government (CPDDHHAV, hereinafter) had news regarding the sudden transfer of journalist Roland Carreño, who after having been unjustly detained in the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) in the Yaguara area, was now taken to an unknown destination by order of Judge José Mascimino Márquez García, as reported by his defense lawyer, Dr. Joel García.
It should be remembered that Mr. Carreño serves as Operational Coordinator of the party Voluntad Popular, a dissident to the de facto Power that continues to usurp the democratic institutions of the country.
In this regard, bear in mind that on October 26th, 2020, the aforementioned journalist was arbitrarily detained by officials party to the usurpation, and spent more than 40 hours disappeared without being presented before a judge or having any contact with his family and legal representatives. It was even reported that attempts were made to forcibly appoint public defenders, even when the defendant has expressed his desire for his own private defense.
On that opportunity this CPDDHHAV filed protection actions under inter-American and United Nations jurisdiction. Regarding the first, urgent calls were sent to the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Venezuela (MESEVE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and a request for a private working meeting was also presented to the IACHR Secretariat so that a team of the Commission could hear the testimonies of the next of kin of Mr. Carreño. Regarding the second, the CPDDHHAV filed two complaints namely, one before the Group of Arbitrary Detentions, and another before the Group of Forced Disappearances.
Now the CPDDHHAV remarks that at the beginning of this 2021, Mr. Roland Carreño has been subjected to a second forced disappearance that is added to the one he already suffered during the end of October 2020, noting that due to his political position he is manifestly opposed to the usurpation, he is assumed to be in a notably aggravated vulnerability position.
All this should also be analyzed taking into account that on October 30th, 2020, Mr. Jorge Rodríguez, who today usurps the presidency of the National Assembly after the fraud of December 6th, 2020, stigmatized Mr. Carreño for his sexual orientation, exhibiting private WhatsApp conversations of his with an alleged “boyfriend”.
Rodríguez’s discriminatory statements were loaded with homophobic claims, and with laughter they showed obscured personal photographs where Carreño was humiliated. It was even hinted the existence of a male prostitution ring where Roland was involved .
Hence, the CPDDHHAV considers that the victim is in a condition of intersectionality due to the discrimination that he is subjected to for reasons of his sexual orientation, which are added to the factors of political dissidence.
This also at the time when even being at the order of justice, and facing an indictment for the crimes of: conspiracy; illicit trafficking of weapons of war; and financing of terrorism, he was irregularly transferred without his family and lawyers representing him being informed about it to an unknown destination .
It was not until almost 11:00 AM today, January 7th, 2021, that Dr. Joel García was able to report that, thaks to unofficial means, they were able to learn that Roland had been transferred to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations ( DIP) of the PNB located in the Maripérez area.
Additionally, Dr. García let the public know that “We went to the court in the case of Roland Carreño and found it closed for this being a week of radical quarantine” and ask: “So who ordered the transfer of the journalist?”
This CPDDHHAV highlights that the judicial defense of Mr. Carreño was never able to access the information on the whereabouts of his client through official means, but had to do so through alternative mechanisms, which is why it is clear that the official authorities, by refusing to provide information or to avoid doing so, promoted the configuration of a second forced disappearance against Roland Carreño, in accordance with the definitions and assumptions contained in Articles II and IV of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, of which the Venezuelan State is a signatory, and whose non-observance has the capacity to generate international responsibility.
Likewise, the CPDDHHAV recalls that in light of Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as 9 and 10 of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, every person prosecuted must be informed about the fate of his imprisonment, which includes subsequent transfers to that of a presentation hearing, as well as being presented before a Judge on a recurring basis.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has established in reiterated jurisprudence that when a prosecuted person has not yet been imposed of a conviction, it is necessary his recurring presentation before a Judge, that is, the obligation of the State to present a defendant before a Court is not exhausted to do so in accordance in the procedural provisions expressly recognized in the law as stages of trial, but additionally the same must be done on a recurring basis with reasonable regularity when the person is provisionally detained.
Now, in this specific case Roland’s lawyer, Mr. García, reports that the courts were closed due to the radical quarantine caused by COVID-19 a scenario that, in effect, forces to question where the order to therefore transfer him came from as it couldn’t have been from the office of a Court as attention to the public was impossible by the sais radical quarantine, a phenomenon that in any case contravenes the standards set by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on judicial independence, Diego García-Sayán, in a statement entitled “The Coronavirus Emergency: Challenges for Justice”, in which it provides that judicial instances must continue to work even in this context with the appropriate biosecurity measures, adopting the relevant digital means for this purpose. Regarding the CPDDHHAV, he considers that it is intolerable for a body other than the jurisdictional one, whether administrative or police, to decide unilaterally the transfer of a detainee, much less without informing the judicial defense or his family.
The CPDDHHAV adheres to the comments of President (E) Juan Guaidó, who ruled on the forced disappearance of Mr. Carreño, stating that: “The kidnapping of Roland Carreño and now his disappearance are practices of the dictatorship to annihilate the democratic alternative as indicated by the UN Mission.”
Regarding the latter, this Commission allows itself to complement by adding that forced disappearance not only constitutes a serious violation of human rights, but also a Crime Against Humanity as is thus recognized in the Rome Statute, and that occurrences such as this forced disappearance are being subjected to a preliminary examination before the International Criminal Court, and many have been established as unquestioned facts in the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, as indicated by President Guaidó.
Commissioner Prado is reporting on these events to the IACHR and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.