High court dismisses lawsuit against expulsion of the New Tribes

Caracas, Venezuela - President Hugo Chávez' order to expel the missionaries of the US New Tribes is to remain in place, according to the ruling the Constitutional Court, Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), issued last October 5 rejecting an action the US group filed seeking protection of their constitutional rights in the face of the Ministry of the Interior's refusal to enroll the organization in the domestic register of religious groups.

In the ruling drafted by justice Francisco Carrasqueño, the Constitutional Court claimed that the right way to reject the move by the Ministry of the Interior is not the appeal for protection of constitutional rights, but a contentious administrative proceeding.

In February 2006, the Political-Administrative Court refused to suspend preemptively the expulsion of the New Tribes, claiming that the group failed to produce evidence showing that the government was infringing its constitutional rights to free transit and cult.

On October 12, 2005, Chávez disclosed his "irrevocable" decision to expel the New Tribes that settled in the Amazon forest in the 1950's. He argued that they committed crimes against the Indians they evangelized and were supposedly involved in illegal exploitation of natural resources.