VENEZUELA / Detained on September 3, 2016
UPDATE: On July 8, 2019, the Venezuelan authorities formally released Braulio Jatar from house arrest. However, Braulio is barred from leaving his home state of Nueva Esparta, and must present himself in court once every 15 days.
Braulio Jatar is a Chilean-Venezuelan lawyer and journalist. He gained prominence as the founder, director, and editor of Reporte Confidencia, an independent online news website, and additionally hosted three radio shows on legal topics (“Radio Continente”, “Super K La Caribena” and “Encuentro 88.7 FM”).
On September 3, 2016, Braulio was detained by officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) while on his way to host his regular Saturday morning radio show. Officials withheld information about Braulio from his family for twelve hours, only notifying his relatives of his whereabouts when they raided his home without a court order. He was charged with money laundering for allegedly being in possession of $25,000 in cash in his vehicle.
Braulio’s relatives and defense lawyer believe that he was framed by SEBIN officials in retaliation to posting a video of protesters jeering at Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Reporte Confidencia. Around thirty people were detained at the protest, but all were released except for Braulio.
Braulio was subsequently imprisoned in and transferred between various SEBIN detention centers. During this time, Braulio suffered from myriad health issues, including hypertension, skin cancer, and severe weight loss.
In April 2017, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Braulio’s detainment “stemmed from his exercise of rights and freedoms enshrined in Article 19 of the Covenant” and called for his immediate release. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects the right to freedom of expression.
Authorities released Braulio from prison but placed him under house arrest on May 24, 2017, citing health reasons. Under the terms of the house arrest, Braulio is under 24-hour surveillance by security forces, is barred from making public statements about his case, and can only leave the house for medical reasons and with a judge’s authorization. Since then, Braulio has remained imprisoned in his own home as he waits for a trial date to be set.