Venezuela's National Assembly on March 29 approved an amnesty law that would free 77 individuals allegedly imprisoned for political reasons under a number of crimes such as instigation of violence or commission of treason. President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to veto the law by any means. Roughly half of the prisoners were jailed by Maduro during anti-government protests in 2014 in which 43 individuals were killed. One of the most well-known opposition prisoners, Leopoldo López, was sentenced to over 13 years in 2015 for inciting violence a year earlier. A former prosecutor from Caracas released a video in October, stating that he was pressured into presenting false evidence to condemn López. The opposition-led assembly maintains that the imprisoned dissidents were not present at the anti-government protests in 2014 and they are being held for illegitimate reasons. Maduro's office stated that the law will be sent to the country's Supreme Court, whose composition is loyal to Maduro. During the vote in the national assembly, Maduro denounced the bill, stating that the law would benefit criminals and terrorists. The court has blocked every measure passed by the national assembly since the opposition-led bloc took control in January.
There has been considerable legislative tension between the pro-government controlled Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the opposition-majority National Assembly of Venezuela following the December election. Earlier this month, the highest court in Venezuela, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, ruled that the Venezuelan national assembly may not review the appointment of 13 justices to the high court. The justices were sworn in on Dec. 23, immediately prior to the exit of prior Socialist Party majority. In February, the court upheld President Maduro's economic emergency decree as legal and valid despite a rejection by the national assembly. The decree allows the president to control the budget, companies and the currency. In January the Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruled that all decisions from the opposition-led assembly would be void until three opposition lawmakers are removed from their seats. The court's decision came days after the assembly swore in elected lawmakers that were temporarily barred by the court. The ruling had suspended four elected lawmakers for their involvement in alleged election fraud last December.
From Jurist, March 30. Used with permission.