Villca Fernández is a young Venezuelan, student leader of the University of Los Andes (ULA), in the state of Merida (Venezuelan Andes), who was arrested on 31 January 2016 for replicating accusations against him issued by a senior government representative through a tweet. Fernandez’s hearings have been deferred at least 9 times and he has not received the medical attention he needs. On 23 November 2017, he spent another birthday in prison. On 31 January 2018, Fernández served two years of arbitrary detention. Villca Fernández is a prisoner of conscience and Amnesty International demands his immediate and unconditional release.
Villca Fernández is a young Venezuelan, student leader of the University of Los Andes (ULA), in the state of Merida, and candidate for Member of the Parliament for the Legislative Assembly in 2015. Fernández has been a student activist for years. In 2010, he received the impact of 65 pellets when he exercised his right to peaceful protest for the increase of prices of the preferential student ticket. In addition, he has been pointed out on multiple occasions as a terrorist or conspirator by different national authorities in television programs, without a prior investigation by the Public Ministry. For example, on 27 January 2016, Fernandez was named by a high-ranking government party official on a program on the state's official television, pointing at him as part of a conspiracy to destabilize the nation's security.
On 31 January 2016, the student replied to these latest accusations through a Tweet. That same day, officers of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN, acronym in Spanish) arrested Fernandez on the public highway and was transferred to the city of Caracas.
On 1 February, Fernández was presented before the courts, after the 48 hours established by law. He was charged with the crime of incitement to hatred, issuing the sentence of parole every 15 days. The defence requested full freedom, considering the Public Ministry had not presented any evidence. According to what the family members told Amnesty International during the hearing, the judge requested a recess. When the hearing was resumed, the prosecutor charged him with an additional crime, false information disclosure, and the measure against Fernández was changed to imprisonment.
Fernandez has participated in several episodes of protests carried out by a group of detainees in El Helicoide. Each episode has generated "punishments" by the custodians, which include isolation, the prohibition of visits from relatives and lawyers, as well as the lack of access to sunlight.
Relatives of Fernandez have also told Amnesty International that he has been ill-treated during his detention: for example, he was tied to a fence for several days. They also reported that, in June 2017, his conditions of imprisonment had worsened: he was in the same cell with 20 common prisoners and 3 detained for political reasons, where they did not have access to toilets or hygienic conditions.
On the other hand, relatives of Villca Fernández have expressed concern about his health status. Amnesty International has been able to confirm that from November 2016 to February 2017, the Court 24 of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas had issued four communications addressed to the Chief of SEBIN, in which it was ordered the transfer of Fernández to a hospital center to be evaluated by specialists in traumatology, gastroenterology, cardiology, dentistry and psychiatry, as it was requested urgently by a forensic doctor from the Public Ministry. Fernandez has not received the medical attention he requires and there have been no declarations in this regard by the Ombudsman's Office.
On January 24, Fernandez began a hunger strike to demand his transfer to a hospital center, in order to address his health condition. In the following days, he finally received the medical attention that had been urgently needed for more than six months.
Until January 2018, Fernandez's trial hearing had not been held, which has been deferred at least 9 different times.
On 31 January 2018, Fernández served two years of arbitrary detention.
Villca Fernández is a prisoner of conscience and Amnesty International demands his immediate and unconditional release.
Tags: Silenced by force, Arbitrary detentions, Human Rights, Venezuela, Prisoner of Conscience.
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