Practice Relating to Rule 89. Violence to Life
Venezuela’s Law on the State of Emergency (2001), which includes situations of internal and international armed conflict, states:
In accordance with Articles 339 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Article 4(2) of the  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 27(2) of the  American Convention on Human Rights, the guarantee to the [following] rights must not be restricted:
1. The [right to] life.
Venezuela’s Constitution (2009) states:
The President of the Republic, at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, shall have the power to decree states of exception. … In such cases, the guarantees contained in this Constitution may be temporarily restricted, with the exception of those relating to the right to life.
The Constitution further states: “A state of internal or external commotion may be declared in the event of an internal or external [armed] conflict seriously endangering the security of the Nation, its citizens or its institutions.”
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:
In case of national armed conflict, Article 3 [common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions] establishes as a minimum the obligation to treat non-combatants “humanely”, thus prohibiting … in particular murder (of all kinds) … The standards of Article 3 are considered to be a part of customary law and constitute the minimum – in terms of obligations – that belligerents must always respect.
In concluding on whether extradition can be granted for the crime of wrongful death, the tribunal held:
The Chamber … expressly notes: the extradition … is not granted … for the alleged commission of the offence of culpable homicide
even though homicide should always give rise to extradition and [in particular] as it is presumed to be connected with the [offence] of kidnapping
… [This is] because … the death of the passenger was caused because of the anguish suffered during the months of his kidnapping
and the causal relationship … practically vanishes, and it would go to the extreme … of “causa causae est causa causati
”: “The cause of the cause is the cause of the effect
[emphasis in original]
In 2012, in its fourth periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, Venezuela stated:
55. With regard to the protection of rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in states of emergency, articles 337 to 339 provide that guarantees contained in the Constitution may be temporarily suspended, with the exception of “those relating to the right to life, the prohibition of the holding of persons incommunicado or torture, the right to due process, the right to information and other intangible human rights”.
56. On the question of legislative action to give effect to this constitutional provision, it is important to note that, under the present Government, no state of emergency has been decreed, notwithstanding the fuel shortage during the 2002 oil strike or coup d’état.
57. The Venezuelan State legislated on the matter and in 2001 the States of Emergency Act entered into force, setting out in its article 7 the relevant guiding principles. Under that article, and in accordance with article 339 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, article 4, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 27, paragraph 2, of the American Convention on Human Rights, no restrictions can be placed on guarantees relating to inter alia the right to life …
58. Continuing with the interpretation of constitutional precepts, article 338 covers the three kinds of states of emergency and establishes, in accordance with the principle of gradualism, factual circumstances that may justify them and their limitation in time … [A] state of internal or external disturbance may be declared in the event of internal or external conflict that seriously endangers the security of the nation, its citizens or institutions, for a period of up to 90 days, renewable for the same period of time.
[footnotes in original omitted]