You are here
Canadian judges in solidarity with ‘prisoner of Chavez’
Judicial independence is the cornerstone of democracy. This is especially true in developing countries, where laws and basic rights are often in jeopardy, and institutions are weak. A prime example is the case of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni in Venezuela. She was imprisoned by the government of President Hugo Chavez for having the temerity to release a government critic.
No Venezuelan judge has publicly taken up her cause—for fear of retribution by the State. So it has fallen to judges globally to speak out. The Canadian Association of Provincial Judges is right to condemn the Venezuelan Government’s action against judicial independence. In a recent letter, the association, which represents 1,000 judges, called on Chavez to release Afiuni and to protect her from unlawful behaviour.
The judge’s troubles began in 2009 after she granted bail to a banker charged with evading currency controls; his pretrial detention had violated Venezuelan law. After Chavez expressed outrage about the ruling, the judge was charged with corruption and abuse of power and imprisoned.
Afiuni has called herself “the President’s prisoner” and tweeted about her experience in an overcrowded, dangerous jail. Though she is now under house arrest, her conditions have barely improved. On September 16, two assailants fired guns at the building where she resides. It is not the role of government to judge judges. If the State takes action against judicial decision-makers whose rulings are contrary to the Government’s views, then how can an ordinary citizen be guaranteed access to justice?
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.