[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.
Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula’s proposal to amend the Constitution so as to allow Police to detain arrested suspects for longer than 48 hours before charging them in a Court of law, sounds like a spectacularly unwise idea. He is arguing that Police find it difficult to always formulate a charge before the end of the 48 hour period and suspects are then set free and even sue the Minister for wrongful arrest. There are at least three ways to respond to the Minister of Safety and Security.
On the Cape Talk with John Maythem this afternoon, Peter Gastrow suggested we should re-look our Criminal Procedure model and investigate whether it would not be better to move towards a more inquisitorial system, like on the Continent. That way Magistrates, say, could play a more active role in the run up to a trial. Interesting suggestion worth exploring I think.BACK TO TOP