Venezuela: Leopoldo López moved to ‘house arrest’ as repression deepens

The transfer of a prominent opposition leader from prison to “house arrest” should be a first step to reverse the Venezuelan government´s policy to silence those who do not agree with them, said Amnesty International.

In the early hours of Saturday, Leopoldo López, prisoner of conscience and leader of the opposition party Voluntad Popular, was moved from the Ramo Verde prison to his house, where he will continue to serve his sentence.

“Seeing Leopoldo López out of prison is good news but changing one prison for another is not good enough. Being subjected to house arrest means that Leopoldo is still being deprived of his freedom,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“Opposing the government is not a crime so all charges against him should be dropped and he should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

“It is high time for the Maduro administration to stop punishing people for thinking differently. Instead, President Maduro should focus his energy in finding workable ways to resolve the deep crisis his country is immersed in.”

Background Information
Leopoldo López handed himself in to the National Guard (Guardia Nacional) on 18 February 2014 after a mass anti-government demonstration he organized. He was charged with terrorism, murder and grievous bodily harm, public incitement, arson damages to property and conspiracy to commit crimes.

In August 2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that López’s detention was arbitrary and the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the authorities to release him immediately.

Forty-three people died, including members of the security forces, and hundreds were injured during the protests that swept Venezuela in the first half of 2014. Scores were ill-treated and thousands detained. Victims and their relatives are still awaiting justice, truth and reparation.

Since a new wave of protests began on 4 April, at least 91 people killed and more than 1,400 were injured, according to official figures.

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