ORGANIZATION OF NATIONAL PUBLIC AUTHORITY
Section One: General Provisions
186: The National
Assembly shall consist of Deputies elected in each of the federal entities by
universal, direct, personalized and secret ballot with proportional
representation, using a constituency base of 1. 1 % of the total population of
the country. Each federal organ shall also elect three additional deputies.
The native peoples of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela shall elect
three deputies in accordance with the provisions established under election
law, respecting the traditions and customs thereof.
deputy shall have an alternate elected by the same process.
Article 187: It shall be the function of the National Assembly:
To legislate in matters of national competence and as
to the functioning of the various branches of National Power.
To propose amendments to and revisions of the
Constitution, on the terms established in this Constitution.
(3) To exercise control functions over the government and the National Public Administrative, on the terms established in this Constitution and by law. Evidence obtained during the exercise of this function shall have probative value on such terms as may be established by law.
To organize and promote citizen participation in
matters within its competence.
To order amnesties.
To discuss and approve the national budget and any bill
relating to the taxation system and to public credit.
To authorize appropriations in addition to the budget.
To approve the general guidelines for the national
economic and social development plan to be submitted by the National Executive
during the third quarter of the first year of each constitutional term.
To authorize the National Executive to enter into
contracts in the national interest, in the cases established by law.
To authorize contracts in the municipal, state and national public
interest, with foreign States, or official entities or with companies not
domiciled in Venezuela.
To vote resolutions of censure against the Executive
Vice-President and Ministers. A
censure motion shall be debated only two days after being submitted to the
Assembly, which shall have the power to decide by a three fifths vote that the
censure shall include the removal from office of the Executive Vice-President
or the Minister concerned.
To authorize the operation of Venezuelan military
missions abroad or foreign military missions within the country.
To authorize the National Executive to dispose of
nonpublic real property owned by the Nation, with such exceptions as may be
established by law.
To authorize public officials to accept positions,
honors or rewards from foreign governments.
To authorize the appointment of the General Attorney of
the Republic and the Heads of Permanent
To confer the honors of the National Pantheon on
illustrious Venezuelans who have rendered eminent services to the Republic,
after 25 years have elapsed since the death of such persons; this decision may
be made upon a recommendation from the President of the Republic, two thirds of
the State Governors, all of the rectors of the National Universities.
To tend that the interests and autonomy of the States
To authorize the departure of the President of the
Republic from the territory of the Nation, when such absence is to last longer
than five consecutive days.
To approve by law any international treaties or
agreements entered into by the National Executive, with the exceptions set forth
in the present Constitution.
To enact its own internal regulations and apply such
sanctions as may be provided for thereunder.
To pass on the qualifications of its members and take
notice of their resignation. The
temporarily separation of a deputy from his or her office, shall only be
decided by a two thirds vote of those present.
To organize its own internal security service.
To pass and implement its budget of expenditures,
taking into account the country's financial limitations.
To implement resolutions concerning its own
administrative organization and functioning.
Any others indicated in this Constitution or by law.
Article 188: To be elected to the office of deputy of the National
Assembly, a person must:
Be Venezuelan by birth, or by naturalization with 15
years of residence within the territory of Venezuela.
Be over the age of 21 years.
Have resided for four consecutive years in the organ
from which he or she is elected, prior to such election.
Article 189: The following shall not be eligible for the office of
The President of the Republic, the Executive
Vice-President Ministers, the Secretary of the Office of the President of the
Republic and the Chairpersons and Directors of Autonomous Institutes and State
owned enterprises, until three months after leaving such offices.
Governors and government secretaries of the States or
the Capital District, until three months after permanently leaving such offices.
Municipal state or national, Autonomous Institutes or
State-owned enterprises, officers when the election is taking place in the
jurisdiction in which such officer serves, except in the case of a temporary
care-providing, teaching or academic position.
The pertinent organic law may
provide for the ineligibility of other officers.
Article 190: Deputies of the National Assembly shall not be
proprietors, administrators or directors of business enterprises that enter
into contracts with public sector juridical persons, so that they shall have no
private beneficial interest in dealing with it. When matters involving financial
conflicts of interest come up for discussion, the affected members of the
National Assembly shall be required to abstain from the pertinent vote.
Article 191: Deputies of the National Assembly shall not be
permitted to accept or hold public employment positions without giving up their
investiture, except in teaching, academic, temporary and care-giving positions,
and provided the employment is not intended to be full-time.
Article 192: Deputies of the National Assembly shall hold office
for a term of five years, with eligibility for re-election to no more than one
Article 193: The National Assembly shall appoint ordinary and
special Standing Committees. The
Standing Committees, which shall be no more than 15 in number, shall relate to
sectors of national activity. The
National Assembly shall also have the power to create Committees of temporary
nature for purposes of research and study, all of the foregoing in accordance
with the applicable Regulations. The
National Assembly shall have the power to create or abolish Standing Committees
by the favorable vote of two thirds of the members of the Assembly.
Article 194: The National Assembly shall elect among its members
one President and two Vice-Presidents, as well as one Secretary and an
Undersecretary, not member of the Assembly, for a term of one year.
The Regulations shall establish the methods for filling temporary and
Article 195: While the Assembly is in recess, a Delegated
Committee consisting of the President, the Vice-President and the Presidents
of the Standing Committees shall be in session.
Article 196: The following are powers of the Delegated Committee:
To call the National Assembly into extraordinary
session, when the importance of any matter so demands.
To authorize the President of the Republic to leave the
territory of Venezuela.
To authorize the National Executive to order additional
(4) To designate temporary Committees consisting of members of the Assembly.
To execute investigations functions ascribed to the
By a two thirds vote of its members, to authorize the
National Executive to create, modify or suspend public services in the event of
a proven emergency.
(7) Any others established by the Constitution or by law.
Article 197: Deputies of the National Assembly, are obligated to
work on a full-time basis for the benefit of the people's interest, and to stay
in constant contact with their constituents, heeding these opinions and
suggestions and keeping them informed about its individual and Assembly
Management. They shall render in an
annual accounting of its management to the constituents* in the jurisdiction
from which they were elected, and shall be subject to recall by referendum as
provided for under this Constitution and the applicable law.
Article 198: A Deputy of the National Assembly who is recalled
shall not be eligible for any public elective office during the following term
Article 199: Deputies of the National Assembly are not liable for
votes and opinions expressed in the performance of their official functions.
They shall be answerable to voters and to the legislative entity only as
provided for under the Constitution and Regulations.
Article 200: Deputies of the National Assembly shall enjoy
immunity in the exercise of their functions from the time of their installation
until the end of their term or resignation.
Only the Supreme Tribunal of Justice shall have competence over any
crimes may be charged as committed by members of the National Assembly, and only
the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, subject to authorization in advance from the
National Assembly, shall have the power to order their arrest and prosecution.
In the case of a flagrant offense committed by a legislator, the
competent authority shall place such legislator under house arrest and
immediately notify the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of such event.
officials who violate the
immunity of members of the National Assembly shall incur criminal liability and
shall be punished in accordance with law.
Article 201: Deputies are representatives of the people and of
the States taken together, they are not subject to mandates or instructions, but
only to their own consciences. Their
vote in the National Assembly is personal.
Article 202: The law is an act enacted by the National Assembly in
legislative session. Laws that
contain a systematic set of norms regulating a particular field may also be
referred to as codes.
Article 203: Organic Laws are those designated as such by this
Constitution, those enacted to organize public powers or developing
constitutional rights, and those which serve as a normative framework for other
Any bill for the enactment of an
organic law, except in the case of those defined as such in the Constitution
itself, must first be accepted by the National Assembly, by a two thirds vote of
the members present, before the beginning of debate on the bill.
This qualifying vote shall also apply to the process of amending organic
Laws defined by the National
Assembly as organic acts shall be sent, prior to promulgation, to the
Constitutional Division of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice for a ruling on the
constitutionality of their organic status.
The Constitutional Division shall reach a decision within ten days of
receipt of the communication. If the Constitutional Division rules that the law
is not organic, such the law shall lose the organic status.
Enabling laws are those enacted
by a three fifths vote of the members of the National Assembly to establish the
guidelines, purposes and framework for matters that are being delegated to the
President of the Republic, with the rank and force of a law. Enabling law is to set the period for the exercising thereof.
The initiative for introducing legislation belongs to:
The National Executive Power.
The Delegated Committee and the Standing Committees.
Members of the National Assembly, at least three in
(4) The Supreme Tribunal of Justice, in the case of laws relating to judicial procedures and organization.
Citizen Power, in the case of laws relating to the
organs comprising the same.
Electoral Power in the case of laws relating to
The voters, in a number at least equivalent to 0.1% of
all permanently registered voters.
The State Legislative Council, in the case of laws
relating to the States.
Article 205: The discussion of bills submitted by citizens in
accordance with the provisions of the preceding article shall be initiated no
later than the regular legislative session following that during which the bill
was introduced. If debate does not begin within such period, the bill must be
submitted for approval by referendum in accordance with law.
Article 206: The States must be consulted by the National
Assembly, through the State Legislative Council, when legislation in matters
relating to them is being considered. The
mechanisms for consultation of citizens and other institutions by the Council
with respect to such matters shall be established by law.
Article 207: To be enacted into law, every bill shall be debated
twice, on different days, following the rules established in this Constitution
and the pertinent regulations. Once
the bill is approved, the President of the National Assembly shall declare the
Article 208: During the first debate, the statement of legislative
intent shall be considered and the objectives, scope and viability of the same
shall be evaluated in order to determine the appropriateness of the law, and the
articles shall be discussed. Upon
approval at the first debate, the bill shall be sent to the Committee directly
concerned with the subject matter of the law. If the bill relates to several
Standing Committees, a mixed committee shall be designated to conduct a study
and prepare a report.
Committees studying bills shall
report the bill out within no more than 30 consecutive days.
Article 209: Once the bill has been reported out of committee, the
second debate on the bill shall begin, being conducted article by article.
If the bill is approved without amendment, it shall be enacted into law. However, if amended it shall be returned to the Committee
concerned for inclusion of the amendments by such Committee within no more than
15 consecutive days; once read the new version of the bill at a plenary session
of the National Assembly, it shall decide as appropriate by majority vote on any
articles as to which a discrepancy exists, and on any other articles relating
thereto. Once the discrepancy has
been resolved, the President shall declare the bill enacted into law.
Article 210: Debate on bills still pending at the end of a
legislative session may be continued during the next regular session or during a
Article 211: During the process of debating and approval of bills,
the National Assembly or Standing Committees shall consult the other organs of
the State, the citizenry and organized society to hear their opinion about the
same. The following shall have the
right to speak during debates on proposed laws: the Cabinet Ministers, as
representative s of the Executive Power; such justice of the Supreme Tribunal of
Justice as the latter may designate, to represent the Judicial Power; such
representative of Citizen Power as
may be designated by the Republican Ethic Council; the members of the Electoral
Authority; the States, through a representative
designated by the State Legislative Council; and the representative s of
organized society, on such terms as may be established by the Regulations of the
Article 212: The text of laws shall be preceded by the following
phrase: "The National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Article 213: Once the law has been enacted, it shall be
promulgated in duplicate with the final language as approved during the debates.
Both copies shall be signed by the President, the two Vice-Presidents
and the Secretary of the National Assembly, with the date of final approval.
One of the copies of the law shall be sent by the President of the
National Assembly to the President of the Republic for purposes of promulgation.
Article 214: The President of the Republic shall promulgate the
law within a ten day period following the date on which the President receives
it. During this period the
President may, by Cabinet Ministers resolution with statement of grounds, ask
the National Assembly to amend any of the provisions of the law or rescind its
approval of part or all of it.
The National Assembly shall
decide by majority vote of those deputies present on the matters raised by the
President of the Republic, and then shall send the law back to him for
President of the Republic
must proceed to promulgate the law within five days of receipt, without the
possibility of new objections.
President of the
Republic considers that the law or any of its articles is unconstitutional, he
shall be required to request a ruling from the Constitutional Division of the
Supreme Tribunal of Justice, within the ten day period allowed the President for
promulgating the law. The Supreme
Tribunal of Justice shall reach a decision within 15 days of receipt of the
communication from the President of the Republic. If the Tribunal declines to
rule the provisions referred to it unconstitutional or fails to reach a decision
within the aforementioned period, the President of the Republic must promulgate
the law within five days of the Tribunal's decision or the expiration of such
Article 215: The law shall be promulgated upon publication with
the order of "fulfillment" in the Official Gazette of the Republic.
216: When the President of the Republic fails to promulgate the law on the
terms indicated above, the President and the two Vice-Presidents of the
National Assembly shall proceed to promulgate it, without prejudice to such
liability as the President of the Republic may incur by reason of his omission.
Article 217: The point at which the approving law of an
international treaty, agreement or convention must be promulgated shall be left
to the discretion of the National Executive, in accordance with international
practices and the convenience of the Republic.
Article 218: Laws are repealed by other laws and are abrogated by
referendum, subject to the exceptions established in this Constitution.
Laws may be amended in whole or in part.
A law that is amended in part shall be published in a single text that
incorporates the amendments passed.
Section Five: Procedures
Article 219: The first regular legislative session of the National
Assembly shall begin, without advance notice, on January fifth of each year or
on the first subsequent day possible, and shall continue until August 15.
The second session shall begin on September 15 or the first subsequent
day possible, and shall end on December 15.
Article 220: The National Assembly shall meet in special sessions
to take up the matters on the agenda contained in the notice of the meeting, and
any related matters. A special
session may also consider any matters declared urgent by a majority vote of the
Article 221: The requirements and procedures for the establishment
and other sessions of the National Assembly, and for the functioning of its
Committees, shall be determined by the Regulations.
In no case may a quorum be less than an absolute majority of the members of the National Assembly.
Article 222: The National Assembly shall be empowered to exercise
its control function by means of the following mechanisms: parliamentary
questions, investigations, questions, authorizations and parliament's approvals
as provided for in this Constitution and by law, and any other mechanism that
may be established by laws and their associated Regulations.
In exercising parliamentary control, the National Assembly shall have the
power to make a finding of political liability on the part of public officials
and call on Citizen Power to initiate the appropriate action to enforce such
Article 223: The Assembly or its Committees shall have the power
to conduct such investigations as they may deem appropriate in matters within
their competence, in accordance with the Regulations.
All public officials are obligated, subject to the penalties established by law, to appear before such Committees and provide the same with any information and documents they may require in order to carry out their functions.
Private citizens are also subject
to this obligation, without prejudice to the rights and guarantees embodied in
Article 224: The exercise of the power of investigation does not
affect the powers of other public authorities
Judges shall be obligated to take evidence as commissioned by National
Assembly and its Committees.
Article 225: Executive Power is exercised by the President of
the Republic, the Executive Vice-President, the Cabinet Ministers and other
officials as determined by this Constitution and by Law.
Article 226: The President of the Republic is the Head of State
and of the National Executive, in which latter capacity he directs the action of
Article 227: In order to be elected President of the Republic, it
is necessary to be Venezuelan by birth, with no other nationality, to be more
than 30 years of age, not a member of the clergy and not subject to any
conviction by final judgment, as well as meeting fulfill other requirements
prescribed in this Constitution.
Article 228: The election of the President of the Republic shall
be by universal suffrage by direct and secret ballot, in accordance with law.
The candidate who has received a majority of the valid votes cast shall
be proclaimed elected.
Article 229: A person holding the office of Executive
Vice-President, Minister or Governor, or Mayor as of the date he announces
his candidacy or at any time between such date and that of the Presidential
election shall not be eligible for election to the office of President of the
Article 230: The presidential term is six years.
The President of the Republic may be re-elected, immediately and once
only, to an additional term.
Article 231: The candidate elected shall take office as President of the Republic on January 10 of the first year of his constitutional
term, by taking an oath before the National Assembly.
If for any supervening reason, the person elected President of the
Republic cannot be sworn in before the National Assembly, he shall take the oath
of office before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.
Article 232: The President of the Republic is responsible for his
acts and for fulfilling the duties and obligations inherent to such position.
Is obligated to endeavor the guarantee of the rights and liberties of
Venezuelans, as well as the independence, integrity, sovereignty and defense of
the Republic. The declaration of
states of exception does not modify the principle of the President of the
Republic's responsibility nor that of the Executive Vice-President or the
Cabinet Ministers, in accordance with this Constitution and Law.
Article 233: The President of the Republic shall become
permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events:
death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of
Justice; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board
designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National
Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly;
and recall by popular vote.
When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.
President of the
Republic becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the first four years of
this constitutional term of office, a new election by universal suffrage and
direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the
Executive Vice-President shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.
In the cases describes above, the
new President shall complete the current constitutional term of office.
If the President becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the last
two years of his constitutional term of office, the Executive Vice-President
shall take over the Presidency of the Republic until such term is completed.
Article 234: A President of the Republic who becomes temporarily
unavailable to serve shall be replaced by the Executive Vice-President for a
period of up to 90 days, which may be extended by resolution of the National
Assembly for an additional 90 days.
If the temporarily unavailability
continues for more than 90 consecutive days, the National Assembly shall have
the power to decide by a majority vote of its members whether the unavailability
to serve should be considered permanent.
Article 235: The absence of the President of the Republic from
the territory of Venezuela requires authorization from the National Assembly or
the Delegated Committee, when such absence continues for a period exceeding five
The President of the Republic
Article 236: The following are attributions and duties of the
President of the Republic:
To comply with and enforce this Constitution and the
To direct the activity of the Government.
To appoint and remove the Executive Vice-President and
the Cabinet Ministers.
To direct the international relations of the Republic
and sign and ratify international treaties, agreements or conventions.
To direct the National Armed Forces in his capacity as
Commander in Chief, exercise supreme hierarchical Authority over the same and
establish their contingent.
To exercise supreme command over the National Armed
Forces, promote their officers at the rank of coronel or naval captain and
above, and appoint them to the positions exclusively reserved to them.
To declare states of exception and order the
restriction of guarantees in the cases provided for under this Constitution.
To issue executive orders having the force of law,
subject to authorization in advance by an enabling act.
To call special sessions of the National Assembly.
To issue regulations for the application of laws, in
whole or in part, without altering the spirit, purpose and reason for being of
(11) To administer the National Public Treasury.
To negotiate national loans.
To order extraordinary budget item in addition to the
budget, subject to authorization in advance from the National Assembly or the
To enter into contracts in the national interest,
subject to this Constitution and applicable laws.
To designate, subject to prior authorization from the
National Assembly or the Delegated Committee, the Attorney-General of the
Republic and the heads of the permanent diplomatic missions.
To designate and remove those officials whose
appointment is made subject to his discretion by this Constitution or the
To address reports or special messages to the National
Assembly, either in person or through the Executive Vice-President.
To formulate the National Development Plan and, subject
to approval in advance from the National Assembly, direct the implementation of
To grant pardons.
To determine the number, organization and competence of
the Ministries and other organs comprising the National Public Administrative
Branch, as well as the organization and functions of the Cabinet Ministers,
within the principles and guidelines set forth in the pertinent organic law.
To dissolve the National Assembly in the case
contemplated by this Constitution.
To call reference in the cases provided for under the
To call and preside over meetings of the National
Any others vested in the President under this
Constitution and law.
President of the Republic
shall exercise during a meeting of the Cabinet Ministers the attributions
indicated under items (7), (8), (9), (10), (12), (13), (14), (18), (20), (21)
and (22) above, and any others which may be conferred upon him by law for
exercise in the same manner.
In order to be valid, the acts of
the President of the Republic, with the exception of those indicated under
items (3) and (5), must be countersigned by the Executive vice-president
and the Minister or Ministers concerned.
Article 237: Annually, within the first ten days following to
installation of the National Assembly, in ordinary session, the President of
the Republic, shall present personally to the Assembly a message by which will
render account of the political, economic, social and administrative aspects of
its administration during the past year.
Article 238: The Executive Vice-President is a direct subordinate
of and works closely with the President of the Republic in the latter's
capacity as Head of the National Executive.
The Executive Vice-President must meet the same requirements prescribes for eligibility for the office of President of the Republic, and must not be related to the latter by either blood or marriage.
Article 239: The following are powers of the Executive
To cooperate with the President of the Republic in
directing the actions of the government.
To coordinate the National Public Administration in
accordance with President of the Republic's instructions.
To propose to the President of the Republic the
appointment and removal of Ministers.
To preside over the Cabinet, subject to authorization
in advance from the President of the Republic.
To coordinate relations between the National Executive
and the National Assembly.
To preside over the Federal Government Council.
To appoint and remove, in accordance with law, those
national government officials for whose designation no other authority has been
To replace the President of the Republic when the
latter is temporarily unavailable.
To exercise such powers as may be delegated to him by
the President of the Republic.
Any other powers assigned to him under the Constitution
and the law.
Article 240: Passage of a motion to censure the Executive Vice-President, by vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly, automatically involves his removal from office. The removed official, shall not be eligible to serve as Executive Vice-President or Minister, for the remainder of the current presidential term of office
The third removal of an Executive
Vice-President, during the same presidential term of office as a consequence of
motions of censure, authorizes the President of the Republic, to dissolve the
National Assembly. The dissolution
order includes the calling of elections to form a new legislature within 60 days
of the dissolution of the old.
The Assembly cannot be dissolved
during the final year of its constitutional term of office.
Article 241: The Executive Vice-President is accountable for his
acts, in accordance with this Constitution and the law.
Article 242: Ministers are direct dependencies of the President
of the Republic, and when assembled together with the latter and with the
Executive Vice-President, they comprise the Cabinet of Ministers.
The President of the Republic shall preside over meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers, but he shall have the power to authorize the Executive Vice-President to preside over the same when he is unable to attend. Decisions made must be ratified by the President of the Republic.
the Ministers who took part are jointly and severally accountable for decisions
of the Cabinet of Ministers, with the exception of those who placed on record an
adverse or negative vote.
Article 243: The President of the Republic shall have the power
to appoint Ministers of State, who, in addition to participating in the Cabinet
of Ministers, shall advise the President of the Republic and the Executive
Vice-President concerning the matters assigned to them.
Article 244: A Minister is required to be of Venezuelan
nationality and more than 25 years of age, with the exceptions established in
Ministers are responsible for their actions in accordance with this Constitution and in accordance with law, and shall submit to the National Assembly, within the first 60 days of each year, a sufficient and reasoned annual report on their stewardship during the past year, in accordance with Law.
Article 245: Ministers have the right to speak before the
National Assembly and the Committees thereof.
They have the right to take part in debates in the National Assembly,
without the right to vote.
Article 246: The approbation of a vote of censure against a
Minister by at least a three fifths vote of the members present in the
National Assembly, shall result in the Minister's removal from office.
The removed official shall be barred from serving as a Minister or
Executive Vice-President for the remainder of that presidential term.
General Attorney of the Republic
Article 247: The Office of the General Attorney of the Republic
advises, defends and represents in and out of court the property interests of
the Republic, and must be consulted for purposes of approval of contracts in the
national public interest. The
pertinent organic law shall determine the organization, competence and
functioning of this office.
Article 248: The Office of the General Attorney of the Republic
shall be in the charge and under the direction of the General Attorney' of the
Republic, with the assistance of other officials as determined by the pertinent
Article 249: The General Attorney of the Republic must meet the
same conditions required in order to serve as a justice of the Supreme Tribunal
of Justice. Shall be appointed by
the President of the Republic, with the authorization of the National Assembly.
Article 250: The General Attorney of the Republic shall attend and have the right to speak at meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers.
Article 251: The Council of State is the highest consultative
organ of the Government and the National Public Administration. It shall be
charged with making policy recommendations in the national interest with regard
to matters recognized by the President of the Republic as being of particular
importance and requiring the Council's opinion.
The pertinent law shall determine
its functions and powers.
Article 252: The Council of State shall be presided over by the ExecutiveVice-President, and shall be also integrated by five members designated by the President of the Republic; one representative designated by the National Assembly; one representative designated b y the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and One State Governor designated by all of the States chief executives jointly.
Judicial Power and Justice S stem
Section One: General Provisions
Article 253: The power to administer justice emanates from the
citizens and is exercised in the name of the Republic by Authority of law.
The organs comprising the Judicial Power are charged with dealing with all cases and matters within their competence, through such procedures as may be determined by the laws, and with carrying out or causing the execution of their judgments.
The justice system consists of
the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, such other courts as may be determined by law,
the Office of Public Prosecutions, the Public Defender's Office, criminal
investigation organs, judicial assistants and officials, the penitentiary
system, alternative means of justice, citizens participating in the
administration of justice in accordance with law and attorneys at law admitted
Article 254: The Judicial Power is autonomous, and the operating,
financial and administrative autonomy of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice is
hereby established. To this end, in
the national general budget a variable annual amount at least equivalent to 2%
of the ordinary national budget shall be allocated to the justice system in
order to enable it to function effectively; such amount shall not be reduced or
modified without authorization in advance from the National Assembly.
The Judicial Power is not authorized to establish any charges or tariffs,
nor to demand any payment for its services.
Article 255: Appointment to a judicial position and the promotion
of judges shall be carried out by means of public competitions to ensure the
capability and excellence of the participants, with selection by the juries of
the judicial circuits, in such manner and on such terms as may be established by
law. The appointment and swearing
in of judges shall be the responsibility of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.
Citizen participation in the process of selecting and designating judges
shall be guaranteed by law. Judges
shall be removed or suspended from office only through the procedures expressly
provided for by law.
Measures shall be taken by law to
promote the professionalism of judges, and the universities shall cooperate to
this end, organizing their corresponding law schools´ pensa to specialized
studies in judicial practice.
Judges are personally liable, on
such terms as may be determined by law, for
unjustified omissions, delay or errors, for substantial failure to
observe the rules of procedure, for denial of justice, for partiality and for
the criminal offenses of bribery and prevarication in office.
Article 256: In order to guarantee impartiality and independence
in the exercise of their official functions, magistrates, judges, prosecutors
in the Office of Public Prosecutions and public defenders, from the date of
their appointment until they leave office, shall not be permitted, otherwise
than by exercising their right to vote, to engage in partisan political,
professional association, trade union or similar activism; nor to engage in
private activities for profit which are incompatible with their official
functions, either directly or through any interposed person; nor to perform any
other public functions, with the exception of educational activities.
Judges shall not be permitted to
form associations among themselves
Article 257: Procedure represents a fundamental instrument for the
administration of justice. Procedural
laws shall provide for the simplification, uniformity and efficiency of legal
formalities, and shall adopt expeditious, oral and public procedures.
Justice shall not be sacrificed because of the omission of nonessential
Article 258: Justice of peace in communities shall be organized by
law. Justices of peace shall be
elected by universal suffrage, directly and by secret ballot, in accordance with
The law shall encourage
arbitration, conciliation, mediation and any other alternative means for
Article 259: Competence over contentious administrative law
proceedings shall be vested in the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and such other
courts as may be determined by law. Organs
with jurisdiction in the field of contentious administrative law are competent
to nullify general or individual administrative acts contrary to law, including
cases of power deviation; to order the payment of sums of money and reparations
for damages for whose causation the Administration is responsible; to deal with
claims arising from the providing of public services; and to rule as necessary
to restore the legal position of parties harmed by administrative actions.
Article 260: The legitimate authorities of the native peoples
shall have the power to apply within their territorial competence levels of
administration of justice based on their ancestral traditions and affecting
their members only, in accordance to their own rules and proceedings, provided
the same are not contrary to this Constitution, law and public order.
The manner in which this special competence shall be coordinated with the
national judicial system shall be determined by law.
jurisdiction is an integral part of the Judicial Power, and its judges shall be
selected by a competitive process. Its
sphere of competence, organization and modes of operation shall be governed by
the accusatory system and in accordance with the Organic Code of Military
Justice. The commission of common
crimes, human rights violations and violations of humanity rights shall be
judged by the courts of the ordinary jurisdiction. Military courts jurisdiction is limited to offenses of a
military nature. Insofar as not
provided for in this Constitution, special jurisdiction and the competence,
organization and functioning of the courts shall be regulated by law.
Article 263: To be a justice of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice,
a person must:
Have Venezuelan nationality by birth.
Be recognized as an honorable citizen.
Be a jurist of recognized competence; enjoy a good reputation; have a
minimum of 15 years experience practicing law and have a post-graduate degree in
law, or have at least 15 years experience as a university professor of law,
having obtained the rank of full professor; or be or have been a superior court
judge in the specialty of the division for which he is a candidate, having been
a sitting judge for at least 15 years and gained recognized prestige in the
performance of his duties.
Any other requirements established by law.
Article 264: The justices of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice shall
be elected for a single term of 12 years. The election procedure shall be determined by law.
In all cases, candidates may be proposed to the Judicial Nominations
Committee either on their own initiative or by organizations involved in the
field of law. After hearing the
opinion of the community, the Committee shall carry out a pre-selection to be
submitted to the Citizen Power, which shall carry out a second pre-selection to
be submitted to the National Assembly, which shall carry out the final
selection. Citizens may file
objections to any of the candidates, for cause, with the Judicial Nominations
Committee or the National Assembly.
Article 265: Justices of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice may be
removed by the National Assembly by a qualified two-thirds majority of the
members, after granting the interested party a hearing; in cases involving
serious misconduct already characterized as such by the Citizen Power, on such
terms as may be established by law.
Article 266: The following are powers of the Supreme Tribunal of
To exercise constitutional jurisdiction in accordance
with title VIII of this Constitution.
To rule as to whether or not there are grounds for
impeaching the President* of the Republic or whomever may be acting in that
capacity, and if so, to retain competence of the proceedings, subject to the
approval of the National Assembly, until the final judgment.
To rule as to whether or not there are grounds for
impeaching the Vice-President of the Republic; members of the National
Assembly or the Supreme Tribunal of Justice itself, Ministers; the General
Attorney; General Prosecutor; General Comptroller of the Republic; the People
Defender; Governors; general officers and naval admirals of the National
Armed Forces; or the heads of Venezuelan diplomatic missions; and, if so, to
refer the record to the General Prosecutor of the Republic or whomever is acting
in his capacity, where appropriate, and if the offense charged is a common
crime, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice shall retain competence of the matter
until a final judgment is handed down.
To resolve any administrative controversies that may
arise between the Republic, any State, Municipality or other public entity, when
the other party is also one of these same organs, except in the case of a
controversy between Municipalities belonging to the same State, in which case
competence may be vested by law in another court.
To declare null and void, in whole or in part,
regulations and other general or individual administrative actions of the
National Executive Branch, where appropriate.
To take competence of motions for declaratory judgment
on the content and application of legal texts, on the terms contemplated by law.
To decide competence conflicts between courts, whether
ordinary or special, when there is no higher or common court shared by both in
the hierarchical order.
To take jurisdiction of appeals for violations of law.
Such others as may be vested in it by law.
The powers indicated under (1)
shall be exercised by the Constitutional Division; those indicated under (2 )
and (3), in Plenary Session; and those indicated under (4) and (5), by the
Political/Administrative Division. The
remaining powers shall be exercised by the various divisions as provided for
under this Constitution and by law.
Article 267: The Supreme Tribunal of Justice is charged with the
direction, governance and administration of the Judicial Power and inspection
and vigilance of the courts of the Republic and the public defenders' offices.
The Supreme Tribunal is also charged with preparing and implementing its own
budget and that of the Judicial Power.
Jurisdiction over judicial
discipline shall be vested in such disciplinary courts as may be determined by
The discipline system for
magistrates and judges shall be based in the Venezuelan Judge's* Code of
Ethics to be promulgated by the National Assembly.
Disciplinary proceedings shall be public, oral and expeditious, in
accordance with due process, subject to such terms and conditions as may be
established by law.
In order to exercise these
powers, the Supreme Tribunal in plenary session shall create an Executive
Department of the Judiciary, with its various regional offices.
Article 268: The autonomy and organization, functioning,
discipline and fitness of service of public defenders shall be provided for by
law, in order to ensure the efficiency of the service and guarantee career
benefits for public defenders.
Article 269: The organization of judicial circuits and the
creation and competence of regional courts and tribunals shall be regulated by
law in such manner as to promote the administrative and jurisdictional
decentralization of the Judicial Power.
Article 270: The Committee on Judicial Nominations is a body
charged with advising the Judicial Power on the selection of candidates for
designation as justices of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.
In addition, it shall advise the judicial electoral colleges on the
election of judge, of disciplinary jurisdiction.
The Committee on Judicial Nominations shall be made up of representatives
of the various sectors of society, in accordance with such provisions as may be
established by law.
Article 271: Extradition of foreign nationals responsible for
capital delegitimization, drug, and international organized crime offenses, as
well as crimes against the public patrimony of other States and against human
rights, shall in no case be denied. Judicial
proceedings for the purpose of punishing offenses against human rights or public
patrimony, or drug trafficking, shall not be barred by the statute of
limitations. Likewise, subject to
court order, assets deriving from the activities relating to these offenses
shall be confiscated.
Proceedings pertaining to the aforementioned offenses shall be public, oral and expeditious, with respect for due process, the competent judicial authorities being authorized to order the necessary preventive precautionary measures against assets belonging to the defendant or persons interposed by the latter, in order to provide a guarantee for their possible civil liability.
Article 272: The State guarantees a penitentiary system such as to ensure the rehabilitation of inmates and respect for their human rights. To this end, penitentiary establishments shall have areas for work, study, sports and recreation, shall operate under the direction of professional penologists with academic credentials, and will be ruled by decentralized administration by state or municipal governments; they may be subject to privatization arrangements. In such establishments, an open regimen shall be preferred, as well as the model of custodial agricultural colonies. In all cases punishment formulas without restriction of freedom shall be applied with preference to measures that restrict freedom. The State shall create the essential institutions to provide postpenitentiary assistance for the reinsertion of the inmate into society and shall encourage the creation of an autonomous penitentiary institution with personnel of an exclusively technical nature.
Section One: General Provisions
Article 273: Citizen Power is exercised by the Republican Ethics
Council, consisting of the People Defender, the General Prosecutor and the
General Comptroller of the Republic.
The organs of Citizen Power are
the People Defender's Office, the Office of Public Prosecutions and the Office
of the General Comptroller of the Republic, one of whose heads shall be
designated by the Republican Ethics Council as its Chairman for a one-year term
of office, with the possibility of re-election.
Citizen Power is independent and
its organs enjoy operating, financial and administrative autonomy.
To this end, from the general State budget it shall be allocated a
variable annual budget appropriation.
Its organization and operation
shall be established by organic act.
Article 274: The organs exercising Citizen Power are charged, in
accordance with this Constitution and with the law, with preventing,
investigating and punishing actions that undermine public ethics and
administrative morals; to see to sound management and legality in the use of
public property, and fulfillment and application of the principle of legality in
all of the State's administrative activities, as well as to promote education as
a process that helps create citizenship, together with solidarity, freedom,
democracy, social responsibility and work.
Article 275: The representatives of the Republican Ethic Council
shall issue to the authorities or officials of the National Public
Administrative warnings as to breaches in the fulfillment of their legal duties.
If these warnings are not heeded, the Republican Ethics Council shall have the
power to impose the penalties established by law.
In the event of contempt, the Chairman of the Republican Ethics Council
shall submit a report to the organ or dependency to which the public official or
employee concerned is attached, in order that such body or dependency to take
the proper corrective action, in accordance to the case without prejudice to
such penalties as may be applicable in accordance with law.
Article 276: The Chairman of the Republican Ethic Council and the
heads of the organs comprising Citizen Power shall submit an annual report
before a plenary session of the National Assembly. They shall likewise submit reports whenever asked by the
National Assembly to do so.
Both the regular and the special
reports are to be published.
Article 277: All officials of the National Public Administrative
are obligated, subject to such penalties as may be established by law, to
cooperate on an urgent priority basis with representatives of the Republican
Ethics Council in connection with the latter's investigations.
The Council shall have the power to ask them for such statements and
documents as it may deem necessary in order to perform its functions; this
includes any documents that may have been classified or catalogues as
confidential or secret in accordance with law.
In all cases, Citizen Power shall release information contained in
confidential or secret documents only through such procedures as may be
established by law.
Article 278: The Republican Ethic Council shall promote all types
of teaching activities designed to contribute to the understanding and study of
this Constitution; love for the native land, civic and democratic virtues and
the transcendental values of the Republic; and observance of and respect for
Article 279: The Republican Ethic Council shall convene a Citizen
Power nomination Evaluating Committee, which shall be made up of a group of
representative s from various sectors of society, and shall conduct public
proceedings resulting in the provision of a list of three candidates from each
organ member of the Citizen Power to be submitted for consideration by the
National Assembly, which, by a two-thirds vote of its members, shall select
within 30 calendar days the member of the Citizen Power organ under
consideration in each case. If the National Assembly has not reached an
agreement by the end of this period, Electoral shall submit the list of three
candidates to a public referendum.
If the Citizen Power Nomination
Evaluating Committee has not been convoked, the National Assembly shall proceed,
within such time limit as may be determined by law, to designate the member of
the pertinent Citizen Power organ.
Members of Citizen Power shall
be subject to removal by the National Assembly, following a ruling by the
Supreme Tribunal of Justice, in accordance with the procedure established by
People Defender's Office
Article 280: The People Defender's Office is charged with the
furtherance, defense and oversight of the rights and guarantees established
under this Constitution and international treaties on human rights, in addition
to defending the legitimate, collective and diffuse interest of the citizens.
The People Defender's Office
shall act under the direction and responsibility of the People Defender, who
shall be designated to serve for a single seven-year term.
The People Defender must be a
Venezuelan national over the age of 30 years, with manifest and proven
competence in the field of human rights, and must meet with such requirements as
to honesty, ethics and morality as may be established by law. If the People
Defender is temporarily or permanently unavailable to serve, the vacancy shall
be filled in accordance with applicable provisions of law.
Article 281: The following are functions of the People Defender:
To see that the human rights provided for in this
Constitution and in the international treaties, agreements and conventions on
human rights ratified by the Republic are effectively respected and guaranteed,
investigating either on his own initiative or at the request of any denunciation
of which he or she becomes aware.
To see to the proper functioning of public services;
protect and defend the legitimate, collective and diffuse rights and interests
of persons against arbitrary acts, abuse of authority and errors committed in
the providing of such public services, filing when appropriate, any actions to
demand that the State compensate parties subject to its administrative actions
for any damages that may have been caused them in connection with the
functioning of such public services.
To file unconstitutionality actions, summary
constitutional remedies, habeas corpus,
habeas data and any other actions or
motions necessary in order to exercise the powers indicated above, where proper
in accordance with law.
To urge the General Prosecutor of the Republic to
pursue any appropriate actions or motions against public Officials responsible
for violations of or encroachment upon human rights.
To ask the Republican Ethic Council to take the
appropriate measures with regard to public officials responsible for violations
of or encroachment upon human rights.
To ask the competent authority to apply appropriate
corrective and punitive measures in cases involving violations of the rights of
consumers and users, in accordance with law.
To submit to legislative organs at the municipal, state
or national levels, bills or other initiatives for the progressive protection of
To protect the rights of native peoples and take such
action as may be necessary to guarantee and protect such rights effectively.
To visit and inspect the dependencies and
establishments of State agencies, to prevent or protect human rights.
To place before the appropriate organs recommendations
and observations as necessary in the interest of providing optimum protection
for human rights, to which end shall develop mechanisms for remaining in
constant communication with national and international public and private organs
for the protection and defense of human rights.
To promote and implement policies for the expansion and
effective protection of human rights.
Such other functions as may be established by the
Constitution and by law.
Article 282: The People Defender shall enjoy immunity in the
exercise of his functions, and therefore shall not be subject to pursuit, arrest
or prosecution for acts relating to the performance of his official functions.
In any such case, exclusive competence shall be vested in the Supreme
Tribunal of Justice.
Article 283: Matters relating to the organization and functioning of the People Defender's Office at the municipal, state, national, and special levels shall be determined by law. The activities of this Office shall be governed by the principles of gratuitous service, accessibility, dispatch, freedom from formalities, and proceeding on own initiative.
Article 284: The Office of Public Prosecutions shall be under the
direction and responsibility of the General Prosecutor of the Republic, who
shall perform his functions directly, with the assistance of such officials as
may be determined by law.
To be General
Prosecutor of the
Republic, a person must meet the same eligibility requirements that apply to
justices of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.
The General Prosecutor of the Republic shall be designated for a
Article 285: The following are functions of the Office of Public
In judicial proceedings, to guarantee respect for
constitutional rights and guarantees, as well as those deriving from
international treaties, agreements and conventions signed by the Republic.
To guarantee the speedy trail of the judicial process,
the right to previous trial and a due process.
To order and direct criminal investigation of the
perpetration of punishable acts, with a view to establishing that the same were
committed, with all circumstances that may be relevant to stating the offense
and establishing the responsibility of the perpetrators and other participants,
as well as to secure custody of the objects actively and passively concerned
with the perpetration of the offense.
To conduct on behalf of the State criminal prosecutions
in those cases in which no initiative on the part of a party is required in
order to initiate or continue such prosecution, with the exceptions established
To file any appropriate actions to hold liable public
officials who have incurred civil, labor, military, criminal, administrative or
disciplinary liability the course of their official duties.
Any other functions that may be assigned to this office
by the Constitution and by law.
These attributions do not
discredit the exercise of any rights or actions to which private parties or
other officials may be entitled in accordance with this Constitution and the
Article 286: Matters relating to the organization and functioning
of the Office of Public Prosecutions at the municipal, state and national levels
shall be determined by law, providing the appropriate measures
to ensure the suitability, probity and stable tenure of the attorneys of
the Office of Public Prosecutions. Rules
to guarantee the exercise of these functions by career personnel shall also be
established by law.
Article 287: The Office of the General Comptroller of the Republic
is the organ that controls, watches and audits revenues, expenses, public and
national property and transactions relating to the same. It enjoys operating,
administrative and organizational autonomy, and concentrates its activities on
functions relating to inspection of the organs and entities under its oversight.
Article 288: The Office of the General Comptroller of the Republic
shall be under the direction and responsibility of the General Comptroller of
the Republic, who must be Venezuelan, over 30 years of age and possessed of
proven ability and experience for purposes of performing the duties of the
Comptroller of the
Republic shall be designated for a seven-year term.
Article 289: The following are functions of the General
Comptroller of the Republic:
(1) To control, make vigilance and audit public revenues, expenses and property, as well as transactions relating to the same, without prejudice to the functions vested in other organs, in the case of the States and Municipalities, in accordance with law.
To control the public debt, without prejudice to the
functions vested in other organs, in the case of the States and Municipalities,
in accordance with law.
To inspect and audit the public-sector, organs,
entities and juridical persons subject to his control, conduct audits, order the
opening of investigations into irregularities against public patrimony, as well
as order measures, raising objections and applying administrative penalties as
appropriate, in accordance with law.
To call on the General Prosecutor of the Republic to
file the appropriate legal actions with regard to in actions and crimes
committed against public patrimony, of which becomes aware in the course of
performing his official functions.
To exercise operating control and evaluate compliance
with and the results of the public policies and decisions of the public-sector
organs, entities and juridical persons subject to his control, as regards their
revenues, expenses and property.
Any other functions that may be vested in him by the
Constitution and by law.
Article 290: Matters relating to the organization and functioning
of the Office of the General Comptroller of the Republic and the national tax
control system shall be determined by law.
Article 291: The Office of the General Comptroller of the Armed
Forces is an integral part of the national control system.
It shall be in charge of vigilance, control and auditing of public
revenues, expenses and property allocated to the National Armed Forces and their
dependencies, without prejudice to the scope and competence of the Office of the
General Comptroller of the Republic. Its
organization and functioning shall be determined by the pertinent law, and shall
be under the responsibility of the General Comptroller of the Armed Forces, who
shall be designated by means of a competitive process.
Chapter V: Electoral Power
Article 292: Electoral Power is exercised by the National
Electoral Council as governing body, and by the latter's subordinate organs, the
National Board of Elections, the Civil Status and Voter Registration Commission
and the Commission on Political Participation and Financing, with organization
and functioning as established under the pertinent organic law.
Article 293: The following are functions of Electoral Power:
(1) To regulate election laws and resolve any doubts and
unregulated areas raised by or contained in such laws.
(2) To prepare its budget, concerning which it shall handle directly with the National Assembly, and which it shall manage autonomously.
(3) To issue binding directives in the field of political
and electoral advertising and financing, and impose penalties when such
directives are not abided by.
(4) To declare elections null and void, either in whole or
(5) Organization, administration, direction and vigilance
of all acts relating to elections to fill public offices by popular vote, as
well as referenda.
(6) To organize elections for labor unions, professional
associations and organizations pursuing political purposes, in accordance with
applicable provisions of law. Electoral
Power shall also have the power to organize electoral processes for other
organizations in civil society, either at their request or by order of the
Electoral Division of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.
The entities, organs and organizations concerned shall cover the costs of
their election processes.
(7) To maintain, organize, direct and supervise the Civil
and Electoral Registry.
(8) To organize the registration and enrollment of
organizations pursuing a political purposes, and see that such organizations
comply with the provisions governing their status, as set forth in the
Constitution and law. In
particular, Electoral Power shall decide on applications for the founding,
renewal and cancellation of organizations for political purposes, the
determination of their lawful authorities and provisional names, colors and
(9) To control, regulate and investigate the funds raised
to finance organizations for political purposes.
(10) Such other functions as may be determined by law.
Electoral Power organs shall guarantee the equality, reliability, impartiality, transparency and efficiency of electoral processes, as well as implementation of the personalization of suffrage and proportional representation.
Article 294: The organs comprising Electoral Power are governed by
principles of organic independence, functional and budgetary autonomy,
separation of the electoral organs from the political parties, impartiality and
citizen participation, as well as decentralization of electoral administration,
transparency and expeditiousness of the voting process and tallying of votes.
Article 295: The Election Nominations Committee for candidates
for membership seats on the National Electoral Council shall be made up of
representatives of the various different sectors of society, as provided for by
Article 296: The National Electoral Council shall consist of five
members having no ties to organizations for political purposes; three of these
shall be nominated by civil society, one by the schools of law and political
science of the national universities, and one by the Citizen Power.
three members nominated by civil society shall have six alternates in ordinal
sequence, and each of the members designated by the universities and Citizen
Power shall have respectively two alternates.
The National Board of Elections, the Civil Status and Voter Registration
Commission and the Commission on Political Participation and Financing shall
each be presided over by a member designated by civil society.
The members of the National Electoral Council shall hold office for
seven years and shall be elected separately: the three nominated by civil
society at the beginning of each term of office of the National Assembly , and
the other two halfway through such term of office.
members of the National Electoral Council shall be designated by a two thirds
vote of the members of the National Assembly.
The members of the National Electoral Council will designate their
President among them in accordance with the Law.
members of the National Electoral Council shall be subject to removal by the
National Assembly, following a ruling of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.
Article 297: The contentious electoral jurisdiction shall be
exercised by the Electoral Section of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and any
other Courts established by law.
Article 298: The law regulating electoral process shall not be in any form modified in the period between the elections day and the preceding six months.