LA REPÚBLICA BOLIVARIANA DE VENEZUELA / THE BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA
Law of Transparency:
Venezuela does not have a national law on transparency or access to government information though such guarantees are alluded to in Articles 141 and 143 of the Venezuelan Constitution, and in Articles 14 and 15 of the Organic Law of the Central Administration. Several regional laws have been enacted, however, and a national law has been proposed.
Venezuela was host in 2010 to the fourth international seminar, Access to Public Information: A Guarantee of Democracy.
Latin Laws: Biblioteca Legal Latinoamericana directs its users to various government websites for the Constitution and laws of Venezuela - . This is a great place to start, but the material posted is now a few years old so follow-up research to confirm currency is required.
IberIUS: Red Iberoamericana de Información y Documentación Judicial - has unofficial, pdf, full-text documents in its collection including important codes and laws, and will also redirect users to government websites for legal documents such as legislation and jurisprudence. The site additionally provides information using graphs and text to explain a country’s judicial organization, individual courts, and other government organs.
NATLEX is the database of the International Labour Organisation. The focus of NATLEX is on national labor, social security, and related human rights legislation. The records in NATLEX provide abstracts of legislation (with internally hyperlinked documents) and relevant citation information. Full-text pdfs of scanned original document are made available when possible as are links to relevant online resources. One can browse by county or subject, or search by keywords and by subject classifications.
ECOLEX is a database of environmental law operated jointly by UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and incorporates environmental law holdings from each of these organizations. One can search any number of ways including by country. ECOLEX includes information on treaties, international soft-law and other non-binding policy and technical guidance documents, national legislation, judicial decisions, and law and policy literature. The results are abstracts and citation and indexing information about each document. Full-text of most documents is obtained by linking the user to government sites containing the document.
FAOLEX is the database of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. After selecting one of 15 topics or “all”, the user is directed to an advanced search screen where one can focus the search by country among other options. The results are abstracts with citation and indexing information for each document. Full-text of most documents is obtained by linking the user to government sites containing the document.
The Doing Business Law Library hosted by the World Bank - is the largest free online collection of business laws and regulations. One can search by economy or individual country; results will link to official government sources wherever possible. Translations are generally not official unless indicated otherwise, and although the database is updated regularly, currency is not guaranteed; therefore, further research would be prudent.
The Constitution of 1999 with amendments and reforms through 2009 is the supreme law of Venezuela.
The current and several past Constitutions of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela can be found in full-text, pdf, from the Gaceta Oficial on the website of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice. They can also be found on the website of Government Online.
The Political Databases of the Americas at Georgetown University also has the current and past Constitutions available for Venezuela in unofficial html format. The current 1999 Constitution has 2009 reforms incorporated.
The University of Richmond’s Constitution Finder database provides three Constitutions for Venezuela by redirecting the user to the website that contains the full-text of the Constitution - including one English-language version translated by an English-language news source in Venezuela, VHeadline.com.
Although the website, Constituciones Hispanoamericanas - has not been updated since 2005, it is still a good source of constitutions going back to the days of independence, i.e. early 19th century. Although the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution is available here, notably absent are the 2007 and 2009 amendments. All documents are unofficial, full-text, html.
Codes, Laws, Proyectos, Decrees, Resolutions, and other Legal Norms:
No presidential decree, law, or ministerial resolution or regulation is in effect until declared constitutional by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and published in the Gaceta Oficial de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, the official gazette of Venezuela.
The daily Gaceta Oficial is available full-text, free, official scanned pdf on the website of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, from March 29, 2000.
The Gaceta Oficial is also available on the website of the National Assembly – from 2006 – present in scanned pdf format.
Government Online has a page where one can search for all types of legislation including organic and ordinary laws, presidential decrees, ministry resolutions, enabling legislation, codes, and international agreements.
The website of the National Assembly– has laws listed chronologically from 1999 with reference and citation to the Gaceta Oficial where available. Also available are proyectos, or proposed laws and documents used in the legislative process.
Mipunto.com, an online commercial news source in Venezuela, publishes scanned versions of several codes, organic laws, and ordinary laws as published in the Gaceta Oficial.
Oriental de Seguros has a helpful though unofficial website of the laws of Venezuela. You can browse the list or search by topic or keyword.
The law firm of Badell & Grau dedicates part of its website to publishing legislation - in its many forms. It is certainly not comprehensive, and the site is a bit clunky to navigate, but the unofficial, html versions, which also link to the official version where available, are valuable.
The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) of the national Library of Congress of the United States of America- has summaries of almost 6000 laws, decrees, resolutions, agreements, and other legislation between 1950 to early 2008. The summaries note the related and repealed laws, and hyperlink them to other GLIN records where available.
The World Law Guide has a list of Venezuelan laws, organized topically, most of which redirect the user to official government websites. This is a terrific place to look for laws pertaining to a multitude of topics.
Legislation by Topic:
A few ministry websites have relevant laws available to the public:
The website of the Ministry of Planning and Finance provides a handful of relevant full-text laws and codes, some of which are official scanned pdfs.
The website of the Public Ministry has the Constitution, the law of the Public Ministry, the Penal Code, and the Criminal Procedure Code available in full-text, official pdf.
Several laws and codes pertaining to the work of the judiciary are published on the website of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice in full-text, pdf, from the Gaceta Oficial.
The OAS website on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition has a page for Venezuela - wherein texts such as the Venezuelan Constitution, the codes of criminal law and criminal procedure, and other relevant codes and national legislation are provided. There are also bilateral extradition and other relevant treaties, as well as multilateral treaties going back to the early 20th century. Some of these documents are official pdfs, others are unofficial html, doc, and pdf documents.
The website of the Andean Commission of Jurists, a highly-respected human rights organization based in Lima, Peru - has a tab for legislation and jurisprudence but the material therein is a now outdated. A note on that page tells readers that the Network of Juridical Information (RIJ) is being updated with the last update July 2008. Thus, the information that you will find, such as legislation from the individual Andean nations (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela) is not up-to-date but is still accessible, as is jurisprudence from constitutional courts, and many webpages explaining various aspects of national and international law. Hopefully the updating of this valuable tool that brings together multinational and international legal information will be completed soon.
The Supreme Tribunal of Justice is the highest court in Venezuela. It acts as a court of cassation as well as a constitutional court. Venezuela, as a signatory to the American Convention on Human Rights, submits to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as the court of last instance in relevant matters. Some decisions of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice are published in special editions of the Gaceta Oficial.
Both jurisprudence (court opinions on contested matters) and decisions (determinations of constitutionality and other administrative matters) are published in full-text, html, dating back to 2000, on the website of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice. The opinions appear official as they are posted by the Court, but they are not scanned pdfs nor do they contain any special markings of authentication.
GLIN- has summaries 49 judicial decisions and sentences issued by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice between 2002 – 2007. Most, if not all, of these decisions and sentences pertain to the constitutionality of laws and regulations. The summaries list the related and repealed laws, and hyperlink them to other GLIN records where available.
The law firm of Badell & Grau dedicates part of its website to publishing opinions and decisions of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice – in its many forms. It is certainly not comprehensive, and the site is a bit clunky to navigate, but the unofficial, html versions, which also link to the official version on the court website, are valuable.
Doctrine (Journals, Treatises, Commentary):
The website of the Public Ministry has the several volumes of doctrine available online that pertain to the evolution and work of the Public Ministry. Especially significant are the annual volumes of doctrine pertaining to the Public Ministry and the Code of Criminal Procedure.
SciELO has a portal for Venezuelan scholarly literature with one legal journal indexed and available full-text, Frónesis - Revista de Filosofía Jurídica, Social y Política, from the Institute of Philosophy of Law at the Universidad del Zulia in Maracaibo.
Dialnet - is an open-access index of journals based at the Universidad de La Rioja, Spain. It contains a large number of Latin American legal journals and articles. One can search for journals or articles using advanced search functions. Some articles and journals are available full-text online from the journal website; a few articles are available full-text from these indices.
Redalyc is a database of Latin American and Caribbean journals with full-text, authentic pdfs. It has a portal for Venezuela - that currently holds three legal journals. There are more articles about Venezuelan law within the larger database.
Latindex - provides bibliographic information for Latin American journals, such as the Anuario de Derecho and the Revista Derecho de Trabajo, but does not provide a database to search for articles within the journals nor does it provide full-text access to journal content.
A collection of open access journals from Latin America, including Venezuela, can found on the website of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
Government Online has a page where one can search for all types of legislation including international agreements. It is not comprehensive but is a reliable source of major, recent, important treaties.
The Organization of American States (OAS) - has a list of bilateral and multilateral treaties between and among countries in the Americas focusing on extradition, drug trafficking, and international criminal law. You can browse alphabetically or search by keyword.
The United Nations Treaty Collection - contains the full-text, official, scanned pdf of all multilateral treaties deposited with the United Nations. One can search by popular name, keyword, United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) volume, or country.
The NatLaw World database has a collection of important Venezuelan legislation and case law - including several codes and decisions by the constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice. The site is not comprehensive but the material easy to find and retrieve. The documents are pdfs, some official, but most are unofficial pdfs prepared by the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade. There is also a small collection of supplementary material prepared by attorneys, mostly in English, pertaining to different aspects of business, including oil, trade, environment, and investment.
vLex - has a collection of full-text, unofficial Venezuelan codes and laws, the Gaceta Oficial from 1960, and court decisions from the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the Superior Tribunal of Appeals, the Court of First Instance, and several municipal tribunals. Their coverage of jurisprudence is impressive; it covers many of the provinces from 2006 and the federal courts from 2000. It is not comprehensive but it is quite good. Their coverage of secondary material is less impressive. Most helpful is the ability to conduct advanced searches in multiple languages. All material is unofficial html and vLex-generated pdfs; there are no official pdfs. Instant Google translation is available.
Microjuris provides access to Venezuela legislation, jurisprudence, and doctrine. The collection of jurisprudence includes decisions of constitutionality as well as opinions in contentious cases. One can search for legislation by type, author (ministry, organization, etc.), date, gazette number, title, and/or keyword. All the current codes are available and searchable, as are the most recent Constitutions.
The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) does not index any journals from Venezuela.
Kluwer Arbitration - has a database of all bilateral investment treaties including those from Latin American countries. Most of the BITs are available in full-text html. Although one can search in English, the results are in the vernacular.
Constitutions of the Countries of the World, recently purchased by Oxford University Press from Oceana, contains unofficial English translations of many past and current constitutions including those from Latin America. Venezuela’s 2007 and 2009 Constitutional amendments have not yet been added.