On May 11, 2016, Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) officers reportedly detained Diego Hernandez, a law student at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), who was protesting outside Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE).
A group of over 2,000 demonstrators reportedly marched to the CNE headquarters on May 11 to express their support for a recall referendum demanding the removal of President Nicolas Maduro. While most demonstrators were unable to reach the CNE headquarters, Mr. Hernandez reportedly passed a barrier and held up a poster with the phrase “Revocatorio ya” (translated as “referendum now”) before attempting to address journalists on the scene. Video footage shows a GNB officer taking the poster from Mr. Hernandez, who was then chased down and detained by several other GNB officers. The officers took Mr. Hernandez to a nearby jail before releasing him that evening.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of a student as a result of nonviolent expression and association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally. State officials have a responsibility not to interfere with the rights to freedom of expression and association, so long as such rights are exercised peacefully and responsibly.
Liberan al estudiante Diego Hernández que llegó al CNE para pedir el RR
#ÚltimoMinuto: Un estudiante llego hasta el CNE para pedir revocatorio pero fue agredido y detenido por la GNB pic.twitter.com/36D6Y3W2lP
— Odell López Escote (@OdeLopez) May 11, 2016