Leopoldo López, leader of the Voluntad Popular opposition movement in Venezuela, in his prison cell. He could be released under a recently passed amnesty bill that Venezuelan opposition leaders are attempting to force the government of President Nicolas Maduro to enforce. A delegation of the opposition-controlled National Assembly traveled to Geneva to seek the United Nations' support. Photo courtesy LeopoldoLopez.com
GENEVA, Switzerland, April 11 (UPI) -- The Venezuelan opposition has asked for the support of the United Nations to urge the ruling government of President Nicolas Maduro to enforce an amnesty bill recently passed by the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein on Monday greeted several National Assembly representatives in Geneva, including Foreign Policy Committee President Luis Florido, Domestic Policy President Delsa Solórzano and Jesus Maria Casal, the National Assembly's legal consultant.
The wife and the lawyer of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez also traveled to Geneva to present the National Assembly's amnesty bill to several human rights bodies of the United Nations, El Universal reported.
"We have started what we call the 'Tour of Geneva' with the amnesty law in hand, with deputies and a group of NGOs that are scattered around the world and in Venezuela to explain the scope and objectives of the law," Lilian Tintori, Lopez's wife, said Monday. "The U.N. has clearly reflected on the situation in Venezuela and now we bring reports, official figures, the direct testimonies of those who live in Venezuela, and we ask support and to rule once more against what is happening in the country, which is a systematic violations of human rights."
Maduro has vowed to veto the bill and last week called on Venezuela's Supreme Court to declare the bill unconstitutional. The bill would free nearly 110 people whom the opposition considers political prisoners but the ruling government of Maduro largely calls "criminals and terrorists."
Lopez, who was sentenced in September to nearly 14 years imprisonment, could be released. He organized protests in 2014 calling for better security, an end to food shortages and enhanced freedom of speech for citizens, but the protests turned deadly -- about 43 people died, both government supporters and opponents.
Maduro's government blamed Lopez partly for fueling tensions that led to the deadly demonstrations. That accusation led to a trial and conviction that has been considered a sham by the opposition and numerous human rights organizations. He was found guilty on four charges: conspiracy, public incitement, determinative in arson and in damages.
While in Geneva, Florido called for more international pressure that will "make known what is happening in Venezuela that could make possible the release of political prisoners."
Florido also raised alarm at the recent comments by Venezuela Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino López, who has launched "threats against the Amnesty Act and is participating in the political debate."
Maduro has previously said the application of the amnesty bill could launch Venezuela into a civil war.
"The Amnesty Law attempts to reconcile and it cannot be said that if applied there will be a civil war," Florido said, referring to Maduro's comments and the defense minister's rhetoric that describes the bill as threatening Venezuela's rule of law.