- For defenders
- How can I help?
Venezuela: Attack and death threats against the family of Ms Marianela Sánchez Ortiz, in relation to the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory's work
On 30 May 2012 armed attackers threatened and robbed Mr Hérnan Antonio Bolívar, husband of Ms Marianela Sánchez Ortiz, Legal Coordinator in the Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones.
The Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones – OVP (Venezuelan Prisons Observatory) documents violations against prison detainees in Venezuela, and promotes their rights. Front Line Defenders previously issued appeals (on 23 June 2011, 25 November 2010, 11 June 2010) in relation to the defamation of Mr Humberto Prado Sifontes, Director of the OVP, following statements by public officials, including the President, and accusations of instigating violence within the prison system in Venezuela.
On 30 May 2012, between 11:00 and 11:30 pm, as Hérnan Antonio Bolívar went to enter his car on Terrazas del Ávila, he was approached by four armed men. One man pointed a gun at him and told him to remain calm and enter the vehicle. Two of the men sat into the car, and the other two stood in front of it. The man in the passenger seat threatened Hérnan Antonio Bolívar, telling him to speak to his wife Marianela Sánchez Ortiz and warn her to stop filing complaints and making up things about the Government, in particular about problems within the prisons.
They added they knew where his children studied, where they lived, where he and his wife worked and what they did at the weekends. Furthermore they stated that if his wife continued with this work they would pay with their family. The armed attackers then stole Hérnan Antonio Bolívar's Ipad, 3,800 Venezuelan Bolívars (approximately €700), a cheque book, a watch and some other personal items.
As the attackers left they told Hérnan Antonio Bolívar that they hoped he had understood the message and that on this occasion it was just a warning, but on the next occasion there would be no speaking.
On 20 May 2012 a journalist informed Humberto Prado Sifontes that he had received a phone call in which the speaker said “Hola de fuentes fidedignas te informo que el Ministerio del Servicio Penitenciario le estan montando una emboscada a Humberto Prado y otros para responsabilizarlo de lo que esta ocurriendo en La Planta, los estan siguiendo, les estan grabando las llamadas, saben con quienes se reunen” (Hello from a reliable source, just to let you know that the Ministry for the Penitenciary Services is going to mount an ambush on Humberto Prado, and others, to hold him responsible for what is happening in La Planta [prison], we are following them, we are recording their calls, we know with whom they meet).
Front Line Defenders believes that the attack on Hérnan Antonio Bolívar and the death threats against Marianela Sánchez Ortiz and their family, as well as the threats against Humberto Prado Sifontes, are directly related to the work of the OVP in defence of prisoners' rights in Venezuela. Front Line Defenders is concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Marianela Sánchez Ortiz, Hérnan Antonio Bolívar and their family, Humberto Prado Sifontes, and other human rights defenders working to promote and protect human rights in Venezuela.