After spending more than six months in the Italian embassy of Caracas, Venezuela, two parliamentarians, Ms. Mariela Magallanes and Mr. Americo De Grazia, are now in Italy thanks to the efforts of IPU Honorary President Mr. Pier Ferdinando Casini.
Ms. Magallanes and Mr. De Grazia, who are Members of the National Assembly of Venezuela, oppose the government of Mr. Nicolas Maduro. Both MPs were stripped of parliamentary immunity by the authorities in May 2019 and subsequently found refuge in the Italian embassy.
Mr. Casini, President of the IPU from 2005-2008 and a former Speaker of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, met all sides in Venezuela to find a diplomatic solution which resulted in the two Venezuelan MPs being allowed to travel back to Italy with him.
Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General, said “We welcome this positive development and thank our Honorary President Casini for his efforts in securing the safe passage of the two opposition parliamentarians. However, we are still concerned about the remaining Venezuelan MPs whose human rights are reportedly being violated. We call on all sides in Venezuela to allow the parliamentarians to do their job without hindrance or intimidation.”
The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has been lobbying intensively on behalf of the two MPs as well as 94 other parliamentarians from the Democratic Unity Roundtable, a coalition which opposes Mr. Maduro’s government.
Since March 2017, most of the opposition Venezuelan parliamentarians whose cases are before the IPU have reportedly been attacked or otherwise intimidated by law enforcement officers or pro-government officials.