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World

Venezuela's Top Court Strikes Down Opposition-Backed Amnesty Law

Jailed opposition activists including Leopoldo López have seen their hopes dashed by the supreme court

Venezuela's President Maduro waves in front of a banner that reads, "Amnesty is Not Going" during a rally against the opposition's amnesty law at Miraflores Palace in Caracas
By Reuters Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
2 years ago

CARACAS – Venezuela’s top court on Monday struck down an amnesty law approved last month by the opposition-dominated Congress, scuttling an effort by critics of President Nicolás Maduro to secure the release of jailed opposition activists.

A supporter of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro wearing a costume with the colors of the U.S. flag carries a doll depicting Henry Ramos Allup (L), President of the National Assembly, during a rally against the opposition's amnesty law at Miraflores Palace in Caracas. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins.

A supporter of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro wearing a costume with the colors of the U.S. flag carries a doll depicting Henry Ramos Allup (L), President of the National Assembly, during a rally against the opposition’s amnesty law at Miraflores Palace in Caracas. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins.

The supreme court’s constitutional chamber ruled that the law violated constitutional principles because it promoted impunity and offered amnesty for crimes that were not eligible for such treatment.

“This impunity law cannot pass,” said Maduro, who had vowed to veto it, in a televised broadcast minutes before the court’s decision was released. “If we want peace, that law cannot pass.”

The court has repeatedly backed Maduro in his disputes with the legislature following the opposition’s blowout victory in December polls that gave it a two-thirds majority of seats.

Opposition leaders accuse Maduro of using allies in the courts to run roughshod over the assembly, noting that ruling Socialist Party legislators used lame-duck sessions late last year to name party militants to the bench.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) listens to lawyer Hermann Escarra (R) during a rally against the opposition's amnesty law. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (L) listens to lawyer Hermann Escarra (R) during a rally against the opposition’s amnesty law. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins.

“The autonomy of the legislative branch is not up for discussion, and for that reason #Amnestyislaw,” wrote the National Assembly’s leadership via the institution’s official Twitter account. The tweet includes a link to a petition demanding the law’s enactment.

Opposition leaders had promoted the law to benefit high-profile government adversaries, including Leopoldo López, who was arrested in 2014 on accusations that he helped spur a wave of demonstrations that ultimately left more than 40 people dead.

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