Venezuelan authorities has decided to extend the house arrest of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni Mora for another two years.
Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni Mora had served as a judge for eight years and was head of the 31st Control Court of Caracaszuela in Vene.
Judge Afiuni has been charged with “ordinary corruption, abuse of authority, aiding escape and criminal association” in 2009. She was arrested after she ordered the release of a man whose own detention had been declared arbitrary that year by a group of UN human rights experts.
Three independent United Nations human rights experts today expressed their concern at the decision of Venezuelan authorities to extend the house arrest of Judge Afiuni. They said her physical and mental health requires urgent medical care.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand what Judge Afiuni is living through.” – Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture, in a joint statement with Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and El Hadji Malick Sow, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
The UN human rights experts asserted that the substitutive preventive measure of house arrest imposed a few months ago seemed to be a positive step. However, the latest decision represents an unacceptable worsening of her situation, particularly in light of her delicate physical and mental state.
According to reports, Judge Afiuni has two tumours in her breasts. She also has a gynaecological problem which is causing her to have heavy haemorrhaging since November 2010. Judge Afiuni’s family have raised concerns that her condition appears to be deteriorating.
Mr. Sow said it is “imperative” that she be released immediately.
Ms. Knaul also stressed that the ongoing detention of Judge Afiuni shows, the independence of the judiciary is severely compromised in Venezuela.
“Judicial actors fear the same fate as Judge Afiuni if they dare to act against governmental interests.” -Ms. Knaul