REPORT No. 4/17
CASE 12.663
MERITS
TULIO ALBERTO ÁLVAREZ
VENEZUELA
JANUARY 26, 2017
I.

SUMMARY

1.
On April 25, 2006, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the InterAmerican Commission,” “the Commission,” or “the IACHR”) received a petition from Tulio Álvarez1
(hereinafter “the petitioner” or “the alleged victim”), alleging the international responsibility of the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela (hereinafter “Venezuela,” “the State,” or “the Venezuelan State”) for the violation of his
rights as a result of his prosecution for “ongoing aggravated defamation” in a case brought against him by a
former congressman and president of the National Assembly of Venezuela. Álvarez was sentenced to two
years and three months in prison, as well as the additional penalty of disqualification from holding public
office. During the case, he was also subject to a precautionary measure barring him from traveling outside the
country.
2.
The petitioner asserted that his criminal prosecution and conviction stemmed from the publication of
an article he wrote for his column in the newspaper Así Es la Noticia, reporting on the alleged
misappropriation of funds from the Venezuelan Assembly’s Workers’ and Retirees’ Savings Bank managed by
the congressman and then-president of the legislature, Willian Lara, and from his subsequent statements
about these acts on different television stations, which were repeated in the national press. He maintained
that his article was supported by a report by the Office of the Superintendent of Savings Banks of the
Venezuelan Finance Ministry, and that this was not properly weighed by the courts. He alleged that, on the
contrary, the actions of the courts were plagued by irregularities and violations of his rights. He maintained
that, in addition to the violation of his right to freedom of thought and expression, the courts’ action also
constitutes a violation of his rights to a fair trial and judicial protection, freedom of movement, and political
rights.
3.
For its part, the State argued that the alleged victim was prosecuted in accordance with Venezuelan
law. It asserted that the limitation of the petitioner’s right to freedom of expression was legitimate, because
the right to honor and reputation under Venezuelan law is an absolute, unlimited right that takes priority
over any other right not considered equal in status. In addition, it reported that on December 20, 2007, the
Ninth Trial Court for the Enforcement of Judgments of the Criminal Judicial Circuit for the Caracas
Metropolitan Area granted the conditional suspension of the execution of the alleged victim’s sentence, for a
period of one year, in view of the request filed by his defense attorney before the IACHR on his behalf.
4.
On July 24, 2008, the Inter-American Commission adopted Admissibility Report No. 52/08, which
concluded that the petition was admissible based on the alleged violation of the rights enshrined in Articles
13, 22, 23, 8, and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights, in relation to the obligations established
in Article 1.1 and 2 thereof, to the detriment of Tulio Alberto Álvarez.
5.
After examining the positions of the parties, the IACHR concluded that Venezuela violated, to the
detriment of Tulio Álvarez, the rights enshrined in Articles 8 (right to a fair trial), 9 (freedom from ex post
facto laws), 13 (freedom of thought and expression), 22 (freedom of movement and residence), 23 (right to
participate in government), and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention, in relation to
Articles 1.1 (obligation to respect rights) and 2 (domestic legal effects) thereof.

1 In the court files, the names “Julio Alberto Álvarez” and “Tulio Alberto Álvarez” are used interchangeably; however, the
Commission identifies the alleged victim as Tulio Álvarez, the name he calls himself.

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