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Recent decisions by some Colombian institutions have generated a confrontation that threatens their own stability

Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) struck down an amnesty law that would have helped free jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and several other political prisoners Monday afternoon.

“It is declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL the Law of Amnesty and National Reconciliation, sanctioned by the National Assembly, in ordinary session March 29, 2016,” read the court’s website, citing “sentence 264”, issued April 11th, 2016, file 16-0343. President Nicolas Maduro is mentioned as the party that approached the court’s Constitutional Hall to ask for an opinion as to whether the amnesty law was in conflict with the Venezuelan Constitution.

In a country with a notoriously slow legal system -- a common trial for robbery usually takes a year -- it took just one working week for the court to strike down the law with a 116 page decision.

In its decision, Venezuela's Supreme Justice Tribunal says that the amnesty law violates the constitution by nullifying the right of people to seek justice for ongoing cases where their "honor and reputation have been damaged."

The opposition points out that the Supreme Court is aligned with the executive and has never ruled against the President since 2003.

At the same time, every law passed by the opposition controlled National Assembly since it took over in January has been struck down by the court, which has also issued several other decisions that impede the Opposition's elected super-majority from working properly, including the barring of three opposition lawmakers from taking office and prohibiting the Assembly from investigating government malfeasance.

The TSJ has even twice over-ruled the National Assembly constitutional power to over-rule and vote down Maduro's Emergency Economic Decrees.

With some 76 political prisoners, the majority of which in custody since the violent 2014 anti Maduro street protests, Venezuela now has more political prisoners than Cuba, Amnesty International said last year.

By Carlos Camacho

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