GENEVA (Sputnik) — Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) staged a coup d'etat when it had deprived the country's parliament of its legislative power, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said in a report on Tuesday.
"It is clear that the various government measures and Supreme Court decisions have undermined the rule of law and democracy in Venezuela, violated the principle of separation of powers, and violated the constitutional functions and the autonomy of the legislature. The State’s institutional crisis has seriously affected all of the public powers, eroding their credibility. … The decisions by the Supreme Court constituted a veritable coup and a flagrant departure from the rule of law in Venezuela," the report, released on the sidelines of the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, read.
"The judiciary, as the result of judgments that advanced the political interests of the executive branch, has lost its essential and characteristic attributes, such as autonomy, independence, and legitimacy," the report stressed.
In March, the SCJ suspended the constitutional powers of Venezuela's National Assembly (NA) granting legislative powers to the executive branch. The move has triggered large-scale protests across the country, which have claimed almost 100 lives.
The turmoil was further fueled by the National Constituent Assembly election in late July, initiated by President Nicolas Maduro with the intention of rewriting the constitution. Voters were only called upon to elect approximately two-thirds of the 537 members of the assembly, while the remainder were elected by seven "social groups," including "retirees, indigenous groups, peasants, students, farmers and the disabled," according to the Los Angeles Times. Venezuela's opposition, as well as a number of foreign countries, have refused to recognize the body's legitimacy.
On Monday, Human Rights Watch called on the European Union to take action in response to alleged human rights abuses amid the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.