January 30, 2015

Venezuela allows possible deadly force at protests

Human rights groups and Venezuela’s opposition are criticising the government’s new authorization for riot police to use firearms to control protests.

The new rules were slipped into a resolution this week providing security forces with guidelines on the use of force.

Venezuela’s constitution bans the use of firearms and toxic substances to control demonstrations, although in practice such means have long been used, including during last year’s deadly street battles between police and anti-government demonstrators.

venezuela-policeThe country’s main opposition group says it will denounce the measure to the United Nations. It calls the rules an attempt by President Nicolas Maduro to scare Venezuelans from protesting a deepening economic crisis.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said Friday the opposition is trying to smear the government and take the resolution out of context.

The rules were published a few days before the anniversary of the start of three months of anti-government protests last year in several cities in which at least 40 people died, including police and protestors.