Bolivia: New Killings Of Transgender People

Protection For The Living, Justice For The Dead!

SUMMARY

The body of Anjie Milano (legal name: Andy Rafael Milano) was found in an advanced state of decomposition on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 in the Mañongo hills, behind the Sambil shopping center in Valencia city, Carabobo state, Venuezula.

This is the second murder of a transsexual person in the state since 2002 began, following on the January killing of Michelle Paz. Moreover, in February, Leonela Valero Parra, a transgender person, was found murdered in the Venezuelan state of Zulia. And these are only the most recent incidents in a wave of violence stretching back at least two years.

Carabobo activists point to a pattern of persecution by local police officers, indulged and even encouraged by the governor of Carabobo. They demand an end to the killings and an immediate investigation, ensuring both protection for the living and justice for the dead.

ACTION

IGLHRC and the local transgender organization Respeto a la Personalidad ask for URGENT letters to Venezuelan authorities. Demand immediate and effective protection for transgender people in the state of Carabobo, and a full and objective investigation of the murders of Dayana Nieves (July 2000), Michelle Paz (January 2002), Leonela Valero (February 2002) and Anjie Milano (March 2002).

Please write to:

Sr. Henrique Fernando Salas Feo-Römer
Gobernador del Estado de Carabobo
Palacio de Gobierno
Calle Montes de Oca con calle Paez
Valencia
Estado Carabobo,
República Bolivariana de Venezuela
Fax: + 58 241 857 0783
Salutation: Dear Governor / Estimado Sr. Gobernador
Comandante General Jesús Ramírez
Commander of the Police Forces in Carabobo
Comisario General de la PTJ
Avenida Navas Espinolas entre Paseo Cabriales y Martin Tovar
Valencia
Estado de Carabobo,
República Bolivariana de Venezuela
Fax: + 58 241 859 5940 (If voice answers, say: "Por favor, tono de fax")
Salutation: Dear Commander General / Estimado Comandante General
Minister of the Interior and Justice
Sr. Luis Miquelena
Ministro del Interior y Justicia
Ministerio del Interior y Justicia
Avenida Urdaneta, esquina de Platanal
Parroquia Candelaria, municipio Libertador
Caracas,
República Bolivariana de Venezuela
Fax: + 58-212- 861 1967
Salutation: Dear Minister / Estimado Sr. Ministro
Ombudsman's Office of Venezuela
Dr.Germán Mundaraín
Plaza Morelos
Avenida México s/n
Caracas
República Bolivariana de Venezuela
Fax: 58(212) 575.44.67 or 575.38.62
E-mail: defensoria@platino.gov.ve
Salutation: Dear Doctor /Estimado Doctor

And please send copies to:

Maury Oviedo
Respeto a la Personalidad
respeto_a_la_personalidad@hotmail.com
Israel Alvarez de Armas
Oficina del Defensor de los Derechos Humanos - Carabobo
defensor_ddhh@hotmail.com

Activists have sent a report on the situation to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Washington, DC, USA. They ask that faxes and e-mails also be sent to its Executive Secretary, Mr. Santiago Cantón ( fax no. +1 202 458 3992; e-mail cidhoea@oas.org).

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Sir:

I/we write to express our concern over attacks against transgender and transsexual people in Valencia, Carabobo.

in July 2000, Dayana Nieves was murdered, allegedly with the involvement of police officers: the crime still remains unpunished. On January 11, 2002, another transgender woman named Michelle Paz was found dead, in Urbanizacion Santa Cecilia. On February 8, 2002, Leonela Valero Parra was found dead in Maracaibo, Zulia; she had been shot twice, in her chest and in her back. And on March 26, the body of Anjie Milano (legal name: Andy Rafael Milano) was found in advanced decomposition in the Mañongo hills, behind the Sambil shopping center in Valencia city. None of those murders has been properly investigated; all, to date, remain unpunished.

Impunity surrounding crimes against transgender people, as well as their arbitrary arrest, harassment and mistreatment by police, constitutes a human rights violation. The Venezuelan Constitution (Article 19) accords with international human rights instruments (such as the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Venezuela and integrated by the Constitution into national law) in protecting "every person … without discrimination whatsoever" against attacks on their life, freedom, and privacy. It is your responsibility to enforce those protections. As you well know, Article 29 of the Venezuelan Constitution mandates the State to investigate and punish crimes committed by public officers.

We urge you to:

  • Conduct an immediate, sweeping, and fair investigation into the murders of Dayana Nieves, Michelle Paz, Leonela Valero and Anjie Milano, and punish those found guilty, as mandated by law.
  • Conduct an immediate, sweeping, and fair investigation into allegations of police abuse against transgender people --such as the attempt against Paola Sanchez' life and the physical injuries suffered by Kevin Capote during her arrest-- and punish those found guilty, as mandated by law.
  • Bring an immediate halt to arbitrary arrests of transgender people in Carabobo.
  • Conduct an immediate, sweeping, and fair investigation into allegations of extortion by police officers against transgender people, who claim to be demanded sexual favors and/or money to avoid arrest. Punish those officers found guilty, as mandated by law.
  • Conduct an immediate, sweeping, and fair investigation into the order issued by the Police Intelligence Department in Carabobo on February 8, 2002 against transsexual activist Maury Oviedo demanding that she be immediately transferred to that Department in the event of her arrest; demand explanations from those responsible, and convey a clear message that no violence against the person of Ms. Oviedo--who has gone into hiding--will go unnoticed or unpunished.

Police must serve citizens, not threaten or abuse them. The Carabobo police should be trained in both human rights and human diversity, in order properly to serve the community. We urge you to invite local organizations such as Respeto a la Personalidad to assist with training Carabobo police on these issues, to and transform the police into an institution furthering rather than impeding the aims of a democratic society.

Sincerely,

BACKGROUND

A human corpse in an advanced state of decomposition was found on March 26, 2002 in the Mañongo hills, behind the Sambil shopping mall in Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela. The body was later identified as that of transsexual activist Angie Milano (Andy Rafael Milano, 28 years old), a prominent activist with the local transgender organization Respeto a la Personalidad.

Respeto a la Personalidad and the local Ombudsman, Mr. Israel Alvarez de Armas, have documented a pattern of police abuse against transgender people in Carabobo, including documented cases of harassment, arbitrary arrest, and physical abuse including possible murders.

Such murderous abuses are not restricted to Carabobo state. On February 8, 2002, another transgender person, Leonela Valero Parra (24) was found dead in Maracaibo, in the state of Zulia. She had been shot in the back and chest.

However, the history of abuse in Carabobo goes deep. It includes:

  • the murder of Dayana Nieves, an 18 year-old transgender woman, who was shot and killed in July 2000 by two men, one of whom activists believe was a Carabobo police officer;
  • the arbitrary arrest and inhuman treatment of transgender activists Estrella de los Angeles, Pocahontas Aquino, Nicole Mora and La Guajira Medina , who were jailed under abusive conditions in retaliation for their protests against Nieves' murder;
  • the killing of Michelle Paz, a transgender sex worker killed in Valencia, Carabobo on January 11, 2002;
  • the order issued by the Police Intelligence Division in Carabobo on February 8, 2002 (the same day as Leonela Valero Parra's murder in Zulia), demanding that any police who arrested Ms. Maury Oviedo--president of Respeto a la Personalidad--should deliver her immediately to Intelligence officers. Afraid of what might happen to her in the hands of a potentially vengeful police, Ms. Oviedo went into hiding.

Other transgender people have been shot at, detained, or brutally beaten. Activists have also claimed that transgender women are forced to have sex with policemen under the threat of arrest.

See these previous IGLHRC action alerts for background on the persecution of transgender people in Carabobo, and on statements by State officials which incite and encourage it:

  • "Act for the life of Maury Oviedo: Transgender Activist in Hiding After Police Alert" (February 13, 2002):
    http://www.iglhrc.org/world/southamerica/Venezuela2002Feb_2.html
  • "New Violence Against Transgender People" (January 22, 2002):
    http://www.iglhrc.org/world/southamerica/Venezuela2002Feb.html
  • "They Will Not Stop At Murder: State Abuse Against Transgender People Continues" (April 4, 2001):
    http://www.iglhrc.org/world/southamerica/Venezuela2001Apr.html
  • "Possible Extrajudicial Execution, Fear For Safety" (August 24, 2000):
    http://www.iglhrc.org/world/southamerica/Venezuela2000Aug.html
    • In The Law

      The 1999 Venezuelan Constitution guarantees the enjoyment and exercise of all human rights to "every person … without discrimination whatsoever" (Article 19). It also affirms the "right to free development of one's personality, without other limitations than those derived from the rights of others and social as well as public order," a protection cited by local transgender organizations.

      Article 21 states that "all persons are equal before the law" and forbids discrimination based on race,sex, belief, or social condition. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights (IACHR) contain clear protections against discrimination.

      The right to life is protected by the UDHR (Article 3), the ICCPR (Article 6), the IACHR (Article 4) and the Venezuelan Constitution (Article 43)

      The right to freedom from torture or cruel and inhuman treatment ("ninguna persona puede ser sometida a penas, torturas o tratos crueles, inhumanos o degradantes") is protected by the UDHR (Article 5), the ICCPR (Article 7), the IACHR (Article 5) and the Venezuelan Constitution (Article 46.1)

      The right to equality before the law is protected by the UDHR (Article 7), the ICCPR (Article 14) and the IAHR (Article 24)

      The right to effective remedy for acts violating fundamental rights is protected by the UDHR (Article 8) and the IACHR (Article 25). The ICCPR affirms the right to "compensation for victims of unlawful arrest or detention" (Article 9.5).
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