[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Venezuela [official website, in Spanish] on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by presidential candidate Henrique Capriles [BBC profile] challenging the results of the March election. Capriles lost narrowly to Nicolas Maduro [BBC profile] in Venezuela's presidential election, which took place following the death of Hugo Chavez [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Maduro was the hand picked successor of Chavez while Capriles challenged Chavez for the presidency in 2012. The court dismissed Capriles' allegations of "voter irregularities" [LAT report] and assessed him with a USD $1,500 fine for "offensive and disrespectful allegations."
Chavez was a controversial figure in the region during his 14 years as Venezuela's president, and Maduro is expected to continue many of his policies. In January, months before Chavez died, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called upon Venezuela [JURIST report] to end its practice of censoring and intimidating members of the media that challenge Chavez. In July 2012 Chavez announced [JURIST report] that Venezuela would withdraw from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). The announcement came after the IACHR concluded Venezuela violated the rights of a convicted bomber by subjecting him to deplorable prison conditions [Reuters report]. In 2011 Chavez criticized the IACHR [JURIST report] for ruling in favor of presidential hopeful Leopold Lopez allowing him to run for office, despite an earlier ruling baring his candidacy. In June 2010 the IACHR sent a letter [JURIST report] to the Venezuelan government expressing concern over the increasing threat to freedom of expression in the country.