Canadian Judges Stand Up to Chavez
Judicial independence is the cornerstone of democracy. This is especially true in developing countries, where laws and basic rights are often in jeopardy, and institutions are weak.
A prime example is the case of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni in Venezuela. She was imprisoned by the government of President Hugo Chavez for having the temerity to release a government critic.
No Venezuelan judge has publicly taken up her cause - for fear of retribution by the state. So it has fallen to judges globally to speak out. The Canadian Association of Provincial Judges is right to condemn the Venezuelan government’s action against judicial independence. In a recent letter, the association, which represents 1,000 judges, called on Mr. Chavez to release Ms. Afiuni and to protect her from unlawful behaviour.