According to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's allies, the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights interferes with national sovereignty by taking cases
that have not been fully resolved in domestic courts. These critics contend
that the human rights court is biased against leftist governments.
Having previously threatened to leave the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,
presumably because of this alleged bias, President Chavez has now made the
decision that his country will withdraw from the Inter-American Court of Human
Rights. Chavez is irked that the court
has determined Venezuela violated the rights of one of its citizens who escaped
the country after being convicted for bombings. The man proclaims he is
innocent. Conversely, the Chavez regime contends the court's decision supports
Regardless of the facts leading up to the dispute, the
decision by the Venezuelan government to withdraw from the court does not bode
well for human rights. On the other hand, participation in the court will no
longer be used by Venezuela as a façade for pretending the regime supports
individual human rights and the impartial application of the rule of law.
It is noteworthy that at the same time Venezuela moves to
isolate itself, Chavez's mentors within Cuba's Castro regime are making
public overtures to enter into bilateral discussions with the United States on
issues that include human rights. Regardless of the financial and other motives
driving this new alleged Cuban openness, there is an opportunity here for the
United States to promote human rights within Cuba while at the same time
indirectly applying pressure on the Chavez regime.
As for Venezuela's allies who believe human rights are being
used improperly as a cudgel to interfere with leftist governments, it should be
noted that the real issue is totalitarianism rather than abstract Marxist
ideology. Whether a government is run by left-wing or right-wing despots, the
common theme is the despotism and tyranny that tramples individual human rights
through misapplication of the rule of law on behalf of the state and its
cronies, and not necessarily either political ideology.
Both the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights should continue their good work regardless of the
threats and actions of President Chavez's regime. To do otherwise would be to
become complicit in the human rights abuses that occur within Venezuela under
the guise of the rule of law.
to withdraw from regional human rights court, BBC News (July 25, 2012)
Chavez says Venezuela will pull out of regional human rights court, condemns
decision, Washington Post (July 24, 2012)
Venezuela to Pull out of Rights Court, ABC News (July 25, 2012)
Castro: Cuba willing to sit down with US, Miami Herald (July 26, 2012)
Castro Says Cuba Is An Island Seeking Friendship, Even With U.S., NPR (July