UN report: ‘crimes against humanity’ in Venezuela

Venezuela protests

A UN report published Sept. 16¬†accused Venezuelan state authorities, including the president, of being complicit in human rights violations and abuses “amounting to crimes against humanity.” An Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela found cases of extrajudicial executions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture committed by the government or its agents. The Mission investigated 223 cases and reviewed an additional 2,891 cases to compile a pattern of violations. High-level authorities, including the ministers of the Interior and Defense, as well as President Nicol√°s Maduro himself, were not only aware of the violations but gave the orders and provided the resources to carry them out. “Far from being isolated acts,”¬†said Marta Vali√Īas, chairperson of the Mission, “these crimes were coordinated and committed pursuant to State policies, with the knowledge or direct support of commanding officers and senior government officials.”

The violations have been ongoing since 2014, the report said. Among the findings were accounts of intelligence and police services being given the green light to execute suspects in simulated “confrontations,”¬†where the authorities plant weapons on the victims to allow security forces to claim they had to kill in their own defense. There have been no prosecutions for the vast majority of these killings, which “appear part of a policy to eliminate unwanted members of society under the cover of combating crime,”¬†said Vali√Īas.

Political dissidents, human rights activists and others perceived to be opponents of the government were targeted for unlawful detentions that involved the use of torture to extract confessions or simply as a form of punishment. Officials within the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and General Directorate of Military Counter-Intelligence (DGCIM) had full knowledge of the detentions and torture, and the report recommended that they be investigated and prosecuted. “Other jurisdictions in accordance to their national laws, as well as the International Criminal Court, should also consider legal actions against individuals responsible for violations and crimes the Mission identified,” the report concluded.

From Jurist, Sept. 17. Used with permission.

Note: In 2018, an Amnesty International report stated that¬†Venezuela is experiencing the “worst human rights crisis”¬†in its history.

Photo: WikiMedia Commons

  1. Bolivarian Revolution devours own children

    A harrowing¬†New York Times¬†report notes extrajudicial executions of longtime supporters of Venezuela’s “revolution”¬†by Maduro’s undercover operatives after they started raising criticisms. Popular radio host Jos√© Carmelo Bislick¬†accused local officials of corruption on his program, “The People’s Combat.” Weeks later, he was taken by masked gunmen and executed. His body was found wearing his favorite Che Guevara t-shirt.

  2. Growing persecution of activists in Venezuela

    Three local and foreign human rights organizations reported Feb. 2 that attacks on rights defenders and civil society organizations in Venezuela have increased by 157% since 2019. The Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Caracas, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, and the non-governmental organization COFAVIC jointly published the report, which finds that the human rights crisis in Venezuela has deepened significantly against the backdrop of COVID-19.

    The report especially highlights the recent arbitrary arrest and prosecution of five members of Azul Positivo (Blue Positive), an organization working to support disease prevention.

    In the last month, military agents have “forcibly entered the offices of civil society organizations; public threats have been made against defenders who have been engaging with human rights mechanisms, NGO bank accounts have been frozen and arrest warrants [have] been issued for aid workers,” according to a¬†press release¬†from Human Rights Watch. Eleven civil rights organizations signed the statement issued by Human Rights Watch and called on Venezuelan authorities to stop the harassment and threats. (Jurist)

  3. UN rights expert: drop sanctions against Venezuela

    The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, Alena Douhan, on Feb. 12¬†urged¬†the US, the EU and other states to lift unilateral sanctions imposed against Venezuela, claiming that they have only “exacerbated pre-existing calamities.”

    Douhan, who had been traveling around Venezuela for two weeks talking to “the widest range of people to listen to their experience and insights,”¬†said in her preliminary report that sanctions have crippled Venezuela, leading to an “economic, humanitarian and development crisis.”¬†She said:

    Lack of necessary machinery, spare parts, electricity, water, fuel, gas, food and medicine, growing insufficiency of qualified workers many of whom have left the country for better economic opportunities, in particular medical personnel, engineers, teachers, professors, judges and policemen, has enormous impact over all categories of human rights, including the rights to life, to food, to health and to development.

    According to Douhan, the devastating effects of the sanctions have been “multiplied by extra-territoriality and over-compliance,”¬†and are felt by all facets of society, both public and private. However, they are felt most keenly by those most vulnerable: women, children, medical workers, people with disabilities or life-threatening or chronic diseases, the homeless and indigenous populations. (Jurist)