Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Venezuela’s Law on the National Armed Forces (2005) states: “All personnel belonging to the National Armed Forces must strictly comply with every principle of International Humanitarian Law duly signed and ratified by the Republic [of Venezuela].”
Venezuela’s Law on the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (2008) states:
Article 134. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces must know, respect, comply with and ensure compliance with the national legal provisions and the international conventions, treaties and agreements signed and ratified by the Venezuelan State in the field of international humanitarian law.
Venezuela’s Law on the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (2008), as amended to 2011, states:
Article 137. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Male and female members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces must know, respect, comply with and ensure compliance with the national legal provisions and the international conventions, treaties and agreements signed and ratified by the Venezuelan State in the field of international humanitarian law.
In 2001, in the Ballestas case, the Colombian Government requested the preventive detention and extradition of a Colombian citizen belonging to the armed group known as the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army) for the crimes of rebellion, kidnapping, wrongful death, seizure and diversion of aircraft. The Chamber of Criminal Appeals of Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice stated:
The standards of Article 3 [of the 1949 Geneva Conventions] are considered to be a part of customary law and constitute the minimum – in terms of obligations – that belligerents must always respect. … [H]umanitarian … law has a peremptory nature and is non-derogable: “jus cogens”. This [branch of] law is not subject to legal lacunae and … remains applicable in very difficult situations (non-conventional, informal or “unstructured” armed conflicts) and when the civilian population is most exposed to violence. …
It is a firm and incontrovertible fact that political armed struggle must be governed by the laws of war
[emphasis in original]
In 2011, in its core document forming part of Venezuela’s reports on international human rights instruments, Venezuela stated:
Department of Human Rights and International Law of the Ministry of People’s Power for Defence
145. This Department was established by Decision No. DG-98818 of 17 October 1997 of the Ministry of Defence (now the Ministry of People’s Power for Defence) by order of the President of the Republic. It has its basis in articles 133 to 136 of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces Organization Act, in accordance with the guiding principles of the Constitution. The Department is attached to the Office of the Inspector-General of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces in accordance with Decision No. DG-002936 of 8 August 2007. The Department’s remit is to manage, coordinate and implement activities related to human rights and international humanitarian law that are planned, decided or ordered by the Inspector-General of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces. This takes place in accordance with current legislation, in order to promote, facilitate, protect and guarantee those rights within the military and the defence sector and to provide technical assistance to such military and civilian personnel as may require it. It also acts as a body for receiving individual complaints.