Venezuelan Supreme Court Declares Amnesty Law Unconstitutional

HAVANA TIMES — The Supreme Court (TSJ) of Venezuela declared unconstitutional the Law of Amnesty and National Reconciliation, approved by the opposition majority in the National Assembly in an attempt to free a group of imprisoned political prisoners, reported dpa news.

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court issued the respective decision just two days after President Nicolas Maduro demanded a legal opinion on the law, which the government rejected even before its approval by the legislature.

“The Law of Amnesty and National Reconciliation, approved by the National Assembly, in regular meeting of March 29, 2016 is declared unconstitutional”, said the Constitutional Court said in its ruling released on the Supreme Court website.

The court noted that on April 7, President Maduro asked the Constitutional Court for an opinion on the Amnesty Law and that once the study was realized the law was declared unconstitutional.

The ruling upheld the opinion of the Executive in which it states that the law passed by the opposition majority in the National Assembly “is a serious affront to the struggle for truth and justice undertaken by the victims and relatives of serious rights violations human that occurred over the last 15 years.”

“This bill would have legally prevented the court from investigating and determining the truth about the occurred facts, to determine those responsible for these violations of human rights and their respective punishment and finally, would preclude compensation for all the victims,” he said.

The law seeks the release of a group of imprisoned opposition leaders, including Leopoldo López, sentenced to nearly 14 years, accused of instigation of protests against the government in 2014, which left 43 dead, and the metropolitan mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, accused of conspiracy.

The opposition asked for and received the support for the amnesty law of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, who described it as a necessary legislation for the reconciliation of Venezuelans.

In a pro-government rally for the 14 years since the coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez in April 2002, Maduro warned that the amnesty law would open “the road to widespread violence” in the country.

The rejection of the law deepens the confrontation between the executive and legislative branches, as Maduro, underpinned by the Supreme Court, has rejected all laws passed in the Assembly, which since Jan. 5 has a majority opposing the government.