UN investigators on Wednesday accused Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and several of his ministers of “possible crimes against humanity”, including extrajudicial killings and the use of torture. Caracas condemns a document full of untruths.
“Possible crimes against humanity”. A trio of UN-appointed investigators released a report on Wednesday (September 16) containing evidence of crimes ordered by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, as well as prominent members of his government and senior officials, some “during the battle against humanity”.
The UN reportpoints in particular to systematic human rights violations, including murders and acts of torture that constitute crimes against humanity.
“We have information that they gave orders or coordinated activities, adopted plans and strategies, provided logistics, human resources and others that resulted in the implementation of documented crimes,” explained Marta Valinas. , the head of these investigators, during a press conference with video conference. Some of these crimes, “including arbitrary killings and the systematic use of torture, fall under crimes against humanity”.
“These acts are very far from isolated, these crimes were coordinated and committed in the name of state directives with full knowledge of the facts and with the direct support of senior officials and senior government officials,” the report explains. 411 pages.
Although investigators were unable to travel to Venezuela, they drew conclusions from some 274 remote interviews with victims, witnesses, former officials and analysis of confidential documents, including court records. In addition, the fact-finding mission examined 2,500 incidents since 2014, which led to the murder of 5,094 people by the police.
“A phantom mission aimed at Venezuela”
In response, the Venezuelan government condemned a document “full of untruths” through the voice of its foreign minister. “It was established at a distance, without methodical accuracy, by a phantom mission directed at Venezuela and controlled by governments that submit to Washington,” Jorge Arreaza wrote on Twitter.
Investigator Marta Valinas admitted that it would have been preferable to be able to go there to meet the victims, see the places where the abuses were committed and meet representatives of the authorities, “but even without access to the country, our mission has been able to conduct a serious and in-depth investigation. in recent months, she defends. “This did not prevent us from conducting our investigation or prevent us from drawing conclusions based on solid foundations.”
Investigators called on the Venezuelan authorities to immediately launch “independent, impartial and transparent investigations”.
The report further considers that other bodies, including the International Criminal Court, “should also consider prosecuting those responsible for the crimes and offenses identified by the mission.”
“An elimination policy”
“These extrajudicial executions cannot be blamed on a lack of discipline within the police,” said Marta Valinas, stressing that senior officials retained control. “These killings seem to be part of a policy to eliminate unwanted members of society under the guise of fighting crime.”
The Venezuelan opposition agrees with the report. The main opponent and self-proclaimed president of Venezuela, part of the international community, Juan Guaido, speaks of a “scary report”. Miguel Pizarro, one of his close collaborators, believes that the document “shows that human rights violations are not an isolated practice but a state practice”.
In December 2019, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, demanded the “dissolution” of the FAES, special police forces that the population feared.
But the survey shows that these forces “are still active and that they carry out missions that result in extrajudicial killings and therefore we give a very clear recommendation: that the government disband these forces. We are convinced that they remain a major problem,” insisted Marta Valinas .
In the case of torture, systematically according to the report, investigators ensure that the torturers resort to rape, suffocation, assault, electric shocks and death threats to punish the victims or force them to confess. .
A relaxing climate
This new report comes at a time when the climate is more relaxed between the UN and Venezuela. Michelle Bachelet said in a statement on Monday that her staff had been authorized to visit the main detention centers of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service and the Directorate – General for Military Intelligence in Venezuela.
Improved relations with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who insists Jorge Arreaza on Twitter “Our cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council has been handled in a coordinated and constructive manner with the High Commission. The progress has been remarkable and has been recognized by Madame Bachelet,” writes Nicolas Chief Diplomat Maduro. “As of December 2, 2019, we do not recognize any other mechanism created for ideological purposes by countries with terrible human rights registers to attack Venezuela and damage our relationship with the High Commissioner’s office. “, the Minister added, accusing the United States, without mentioning them, of destabilization.
In early September, Nicolas Maduro also granted presidential pardon to hundreds of opponents, including deputies and staff of opposition leader Juan Guaido, to “promote national reconciliation”, three months away from the legislative election. the opposition demands a boycott. Elections scheduled for early December for which the Venezuelan government has proposed that the UN and the European Union send observers.