Caracas: A human rights group has claimed that the abuse of power by the Venezuelan Government under the rule of President Hugo Chavez has increased over the past four years.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, legislation limiting free speech and the removal of institutional safeguards give the government a free rein to censor and intimidate critics.
In 2008, HRW detailed its view of how Chavez`s government had “squandered a historic opportunity to shore up the country`s democratic institutions and strengthen the protection of human rights in Venezuela.”
The latest report, entitled Tightening the Grip: Concentration and Abuse of Power in Chavez`s Venezuela, argued that the human rights situation in the country has become even more precarious, the BBC reports.
The report acknowledged that sharp criticism of the government is common in newspapers and on other broadcast outlets.
It also argued that the fear of government reprisals has made self-censorship a serious problem.
The report cited the case of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni as the most disturbing example of the lack of judicial independence.
In 2009, Judge Afiuni ordered the release of a Venezuelan businessman and government critic accused of breaking currency controls. He had been held for nearly three years without trial, exceeding legal limits.