The Americas

Venezuela's Maduro rejects law to free opposition activists

  • Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a demonstration, at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 7, 2016. Groups allied to Venezuela's socialist administration marched to protest an amnesty law passed by the opposition controlled congress calling for release of those it deems to be political detainees. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a demonstration, at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 7, 2016. Groups allied to Venezuela's socialist administration marched to protest an amnesty law passed by the opposition controlled congress calling for release of those it deems to be political detainees. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

  • Supporters of President Nicolas Maduro yell out slogans during a demosntration, at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 7, 2016. Groups allied to Venezuela's socialist administration marched to protest an amnesty law passed by the opposition controlled congress calling for release of those it deems to be political detainees. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    Supporters of President Nicolas Maduro yell out slogans during a demosntration, at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 7, 2016. Groups allied to Venezuela's socialist administration marched to protest an amnesty law passed by the opposition controlled congress calling for release of those it deems to be political detainees. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

  • Supporters of President Nicolas Maduro raise their fists during a demosntration, at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 7, 2016. Groups allied to Venezuela's socialist administration marched to protest an amnesty law passed by the opposition controlled congress calling for release of those it deems to be political detainees. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    Supporters of President Nicolas Maduro raise their fists during a demosntration, at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 7, 2016. Groups allied to Venezuela's socialist administration marched to protest an amnesty law passed by the opposition controlled congress calling for release of those it deems to be political detainees. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has vetoed legislation that would give amnesty to activists the opposition considers political prisoners.

The opposition-controlled congress passed the measure last week calling for the release of dozens of people imprisoned in connection with opposing the socialist administration launched 17 years ago by the late President Hugo Chavez.

Maduro has called amnesty an attempt to free murderers, and on Thursday he officially rejected the bill. He also said he had asked Venezuela's Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has blocked the National Assembly at every turn since the opposition took over the body in January and the justices are expected to kill the legislation as well.

The amnesty push has been one of the opposition's most important initiatives.