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Attorney General: Public Ministry's Duty is to Investigate Punishable Offenses, Not to Criminalize Protests

On Tuesday the Attorney General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Luisa Ortega Diaz, refuted accusations that the Public Ministry would criminalize peaceful demonstrations, although opposition sectors wish to make it appear so. Likewise, she clarified that the duty of the ministry is to independently investigate punishable offenses in the event that they occur.

"It is a lie that the Public Ministry would take action against those who peacefully demonstrate," she stated on the Venezuela Television (VTV) program Dando y Dando.

The Attorney General specified that employees of the Metropolitan Mayoralty who are currently under arrest, among them Caracas Prefect Richard Blanco, are being processed for criminal actions, not for demonstrating. Ortega Diaz recalled that peaceful protest is a right that must be respected and it is clearly stated in the Constitution of the Republic.

Regarding the case of Blanco, according to the Attorney General, he is currently detained for serious acts of aggression against the person of a Metropolitan Police Officer, not for any sort of political retaliation.

"We will have to investigate the punishable actions that occur in any demonstration." Likewise, she specified that during the protests there were actions that violated the law, and it is the obligation of the Attorney General to begin proceedings to determine the responsibilities of the parties involved. 

"We will pursue a punishable offense wherever it occurs. If it happens at a party, we have to investigate it. That does not mean we are criminalizing parties," she said. For this reason, she asserted that the same applies in the case of demonstrations.

Ortega Diaz also explained that it is not her duty to imprison any individual but to ensure the integrity of the investigative process. The statement was made in response to accusations leveled by some political representatives and private media in an attempt to distort the facts and convey the appearance of criminalization of demonstrators.

"All this is a lie. They are using this argument to provoke new demonstrations. There has not been one single case since I have been at the Public Ministry where a person is processed for demonstration," emphasized the Attorney General.


Bolivarian News Agency, Press Unit of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela / September 2, 2009

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