After 13 years in power, there are many unresolved problems in Venezuela, despite the promises of President Chávez's government. One problem is the impunity of the police and military, and their violation of the right to life.
In the poor neighbourhoods of Barquisimeto, Venezuela's fifth largest city, families whose relatives have been assassinated or abused by the police or military cannot not hire lawyers to represent them. In 2004 they formed a popular committee to organise themselves, called the 'Committee of Victims Against Impunity' (Covicil in Spanish).
Covicil members include direct and indirect victims, who haven't received responses to their demands about human rights violations.
In the last 8 years, Covicil has denounced 400 cases of human rights violations by police and military officers. Only 3 of the cases received a court sentence, which demonstrates the high level of impunity. In addition to the denunciations, Covicil helps the families of victims with official paperwork.
Recently their work has been compiled in a book "Impunity and Power: History of human rights violations en Lara (2000 - 2011)", the book was supported by WRI Council member Rafael Uzcategui who has been working with Covicil for many years.
Last year Rafael organised a WRI delegation, who visited Covicil and heard first hand the impact of the military and police impunity. They met with Victor Martínez, the father of Mijaíl Martínez who was assassinated , aged 24, probably as a consequence of Mijaíl's support of Covicil. In Covicil, families can feel safe to share their stories and where they support each other dealing with the trauma of police violence and the lack of justice.