Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2010-07-08-Speech-4-416"

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"Madam President, once again we are discussing in this Parliament the situation in Venezuela – not because we want to, but because we have to. Things have not improved since our last resolution; quite the opposite. The very idea of the rule of law is now disappearing under so much pressure put on judges and the judiciary, and this affects the exercise of a whole range of human rights, from freedom of speech – particularly media freedom – to private property. Article 26 of the Venezuelan Constitution is very clear, stating that the judiciary is independent and the President is the guarantor of this independence. Nevertheless, more and more, President Hugo Chavez is simply dictating through public speeches to the prosecutors and the judges how to act and decide. Several judges have become victims of such presidential behaviour. Some have been removed from office; others have left the country. The case of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni is just the most recent and the most prominent in the sense that a judge was imprisoned, accused because of a decision she took. How could the judges dealing with her case act independently when the President of the country, instead of waiting for the trial and the analysis of the evidence by the judiciary, publicly refers to Judge Afiuni as a bandit and asks for a maximum penalty? Maria Lourdes Afiuni has spent her last seven months in a place where her physical integrity and even her life are endangered. She is in a prison with more than 20 female inmates whom she convicted over the years for very severe crimes. There is no doubt this measure was taken to humiliate her and to frighten her. Since I do not expect much from the Venezuelan courts, I dare to ask President Chavez to allow her release. President Chávez, Judge Afiuni must be freed immediately. There needs to be a fair trial without delay, with all of the guarantees necessary for her to be able to defend herself against the prosecutor’s accusations. This would not only be fair on your part, but also a notable humanitarian gesture."@en1

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