6. On October 26, the State submitted a response to the petition. On November 17, 2004, the
Commission remitted to the petitioners the relevant parts of the State’s response.
III.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

A.

Position of the petitioners

7. The petitioners claim that on October 30, 2003, they were removed from their positions as
magistrates of the First Court. 2 They attribute their dismissal to the fact that between August
2002 and August 2003, the court in which they were magistrates had handed down a dozen
judgments against government agencies which, in the context of the country’s political
polarization, would have caused problems for the Executive branch and had a national impact. 3
8. They assert that their dismissal as judges on the presumption that they had committed
serious irregularities was in violation of their guarantee to hold public office in perpetuity. They
argue that they received discriminatory treatment compared with other judges, as they were
subjected to an unprecedented, summary procedure devoid of any guarantee of a defense. In
addition, they allege that the judges who were pro-government received preferential
treatment. They claim that they did not have access to any simple or swift remedies or any
other effective recourse to independent judges or competent courts. The petitioners filed a
hierarchical appeal for annulment with the Full Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice,
which failed to issue a ruling within the time limits established by law. According to the
petitioners, the delay by the Venezuelan jurisdictional authority was unreasonable and
constituted another violation of the right to guarantees and judicial protection.
9. In an account of the facts that led to their removal, the petitioners stated that on June 3,
2003, the Political-Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice heard a request for
dismissal in case No. 2002/0898 and declared having found an inexcusable judicial error in the
First Court’s judgment of June 11, 2002 and ordered that a certified copy of that decision be
remitted to the Inspector General of Courts. They stated that on September 18, 2003, Mr.
Alfredo Romero Oliveros, Judge Perkins Rocha’s chauffeur, was arrested by officers of the
Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP) as he was about to deliver said file
to the residence of the External Rapporteur of the First Court. 4
10. The petitioners reported that on September 23, 2003, the First Court was searched by
DISIP officers and officials of the Public Prosecutor’s Office looking for evidence of what
happened on September 18, 2003. They also reported that on September 29, 2003, a
Commission from the Inspectorate General of Courts visited the First Court to investigate the
2 When the petitioners functioned as magistrates of the First Court on Administrative Disputes, that Court was not
connected to the Political-Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice and had nationwide jurisdiction. Its
mission consisted of reviewing all the administrative acts of the national government and state and municipal public
authorities, except for ministerial acts. The petitioners stated that after the Supreme Court, the First Court was the
next highest national court.
3 Among the cases that attracted national attention, the petitioners referred to the following ones, reported in the
press as controversial judgments: “Dissidents. Since 04-11-02, the court suspended the commissions of inquiry
against military dissidents. Militarization of Miranda State: On 11-27-02, an action against the militarization of Miranda
State was admitted. Intervention of the Metropolitan Police (PM): On 05-20-03 it ordered the return of vehicles
confiscated from the PM. Unapetrol: On June 12, it granted precautionary measures for workers of Unapetrol who
backed the PDVSA strike. Cuban doctors: On August 21, it suspended the approval of Cuban doctors who were
assisting with the “Barrios Adentro” plan (in low-income neighborhoods) created by the government. This decision was
contested in the Supreme Court. Globovisión: Before magistrates Apitz and Rocha were suspended, a judgment
requiring that the equipment seized from Globovisión be returned had been prepared.” Article in El Universal:
Suspension from First Court divides magistrates, Irma Álvarez. October 2003.
4 In the complaints, the petitioners state that Mr. Alfredo Romero Oliveros was moved to DISIP Headquarters on
September 19, where he was held incommunicado for 36 hours without food or drink and interrogated about the
lifestyles of his superiors. They say that on September 20, 2003 the Fifth Court of Control of the Criminal Circuit Court
of Miranda State issued a decision to detain Oliveros alleging that he had committed the crime of concealing and
withholding a public document. He was later remanded to a high security prison, where he was held for 25 days.
Oliveros was released by judgment of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, which overturned the
decision of the Fifth Court, invalidating any investigation that would have been carried out based on the same material
facts used in that decision.

2

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