Position of the petitioners

The petitioners said that on November 10, 2003, at about 4:30 p.m., there had been a clash
or uprising among inmates at the Vista Hermosa Prison, which had led the Director of that detention center
to request the entry of members of the National Guard (a part of the national armed forces), which was
responsible for the prison’s external security.
The soldiers of the National Guard and agents of the Ministry of Interior and Justice
(responsible for security within prisons) cleared out the inmates and put them in the sports facilities,
specifically in an area called: “the field,” and then beat them with bats, pipes, rifles, and “peinillas”. In
addition, they were said to have taken the alleged leaders of the cellblocks and executed them. These are
the seven alleged victims named in the petition, all of them died on the date of the facts.
According to the petitioners, the autopsies revealed that the victims died from gunshot
wounds: in the parietal region (Bolívar); in the back (Figueroa); from the rear to the front (Núñez); in the
supra-auricular region (Reyes); in the right posterior parietal region (Muñoz); in the right retro-auricular
region (López), and in the right region of the neck (Olivares). The foregoing would be consistent with the
statements of several eyewitnesses that four National Guard troops were directly responsible for these
The petitioners say that although the judicial investigations started on the same day of the
facts, November 10, 2003, to date the criminal proceeding is still in the preparatory phase by the Public
Prosecutor’s Office, in the Second Prosecutor’s Office for Basic Rights in Ciudad Bolívar. They say that the
last official decision in the case was a resolution of the Third Control Court on June 19, 2006, which rejected
the petitioners’ motion to set a reasonable deadline for finishing the pre-trial proceedings. Therefore, they
consider that there has been an unwarranted delay in the case, and a pattern of denial of justice.
In view of the foregoing, they allege that the State has failed to fulfill its basic duty to respect
and guarantee the life and humane treatment of the victims in the instant case, who were individuals in
State custody for whom it was in a position to guarantee their rights.
The petitioners allege that the victims’ next-of-kin suffered direct violation of their right to
humane treatment and a fair trial as a result of the inaction and unwarranted delay in the action of the
judicial authorities.
With respect to the admissibility of the petition, the petitioners allege that the exception
provided in Article 46.2.c of the American Convention applies in this case, because they consider that there
has been an unwarranted delay of more than five years in the decision on the appropriate remedy, which
in this case would be a criminal trial of those responsible for the deaths of the alleged victims.
According to the petitioners, the violations alleged in this case refer not only to the acts that
directly caused the deaths of the seven named victims; but also to the State’s failure to carry out its duty to
protect the life and humane treatment of incarcerated persons, and the failure of all public officials to
guarantee the necessary security in the detention centers to prevent more deaths in the prisons. The
petitioners say that the overall situation of prisons in Venezuela is extremely serious. They note that the
Inter-American Court has approved provisional measures with regard to Venezuela’s prisons, and that the
Inter-American Commission has referred repeatedly in its reports to the grave situation of prisoners in
Venezuela. Particularly with regard to several violent acts that have occurred in the prisons and the failure
of the State to investigate them.

Position of the State

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