Venezuela: UN report urges accountability for crimes against humanity – OAS

Governance – Justice: Venezuela

Venezuela: UN report urges accountability for crimes against humanity
GENEVA (16 September 2020) – Human Rights Council
The Venezuelan State must hold to account those responsible for extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture, and prevent further acts of this nature from taking place, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela said in its first report, published today.

The Mission investigated 223 cases, of which 48 are included as in-depth case studies in the 411-page report. It reviewed an additional 2,891 cases to corroborate patterns of violations and crimes.

While recognising the nature of the crisis and tensions in the country, and the responsibilities of the State to maintain public order, the Mission found the Government, State agents, and groups working with them had committed egregious violations. It identified patterns of violations and crimes that were highly coordinated pursuant to State policies, and part of a widespread and systematic course of conduct, thus amounting to crimes against humanity.

The Mission found that high-level State authorities held and exercised power and oversight over the security forces and intelligence agencies identified in the report as responsible for these violations. President Maduro and the Ministers of the Interior and of Defence were aware of the crimes. They gave orders, coordinated activities and supplied resources in furtherance of the plans and policies under which the crimes were committed.

“The Mission found reasonable grounds to believe that Venezuelan authorities and security forces have since 2014 planned and executed serious human rights violations, some of which – including arbitrary killings and the systematic use of torture – amount to crimes against humanity,” said Marta Valiñas, chairperson of the Mission…

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Statement from the OAS General Secretariat on the UN Report on Crimes against Humanity in Venezuela
Organization of American States
Press Releases Sep 16, 2020
The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) expresses its support to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the publication of the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, published on September 16, 2020.

In this report, the Venezuelan regime is urged to account for flagrant and systematic violations of human rights, which qualify as crimes against humanity. This is based on the evidence collected by the mission that verifies that the highest authorities of the State exercised control over those who carried out said violations, and that Nicolás Maduro and the Ministers of the Interior and Defense were aware of the crimes, having issued the orders, coordinated activities and supported actions by which these crimes were committed. The violations confirmed include: extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arrests and torture for political reasons, violence against protesters and the complicity of a judicial power reluctant to investigate the facts substantively. All of this suggests a pattern of widespread and systematic actions of repression and violations of human rights as State policies that constitute crimes against humanity. The report concludes by recommending that the International Criminal Court consider the possibility of taking legal action against those responsible.

The General Secretariat supports and echoes these recommendations. These, as well as the corroborated crimes, are consistent with what is contained in the Report of the General Secretariat of the OAS and the Panel of Independent International Experts on the Possible Commission of Crimes against Humanity in Venezuela of May 30, 2018. Al In this regard, the OAS report also identifies the chain of command for these crimes, 11 officials for their immediate political responsibility and another 146 subordinates for executing orders. In an unprecedented initiative, and based on the OAS Report, 6 States Parties to the Rome Statute referred the case of Venezuela to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and requested an investigation on September 26, 2018.

The recommendations made today by the Human Rights Council are also consistent with the report on Venezuela issued on June 22, 2018 by the then-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. It maintains that “given that the State does not seem to have the capacity or the will to prosecute those responsible for the serious human rights violations, there are solid reasons to consider a greater involvement of the International Criminal Court in this matter.”

In this regard, while the General Secretariat expresses its approval of the report, we cannot fail to point out the delays in demanding accountability. In dealing with human rights, the speed of the actions of the organizations dedicated to their defense is urgent. It is literally a matter of life and death.

The General Secretariat wants to add some data that allow for a complete understanding of the origin, execution, and political consequences of these crimes. Venezuela is today a failed and fragmented State, both in its territorial and administrative dimensions. Responsibility for these crimes extends to foreign operators and agents, especially Cubans who operate in Venezuela in tasks of repression, torture and intelligence, as has been pointed out by victims of the regime.

For these reasons, we cannot fail to mention our concern about the presence of representatives of the Maduro dictatorship in the United Nations Human Rights Council. The inconsistency could not be more glaring in light of the report just presented by the Council itself. We urge the international community to act on this.

Likewise, the international community must stop granting the regime options to legitimize itself through clearly fraudulent elections, as certain international actors have done, acting in coordination with local political actors who are accomplices of the dictatorship. It is absurd to think that criminals against humanity who suppress and eliminate opposition and dissent can organize free and fair elections. It is also absurd to say that those who participate in the elections can be considered as fragmented opposition; collaboration with the dictatorship makes them part of the dictatorship, not of the opposition.

Therefore, this report must lead the international community to act in a joint and coordinated manner to exert the corresponding pressure, bring criminals to justice and free the Venezuelan people from so much oppression.

It is not a time for ambiguity, it is a time for justice; it is not time to find terms of coexistence with the Venezuelan dictatorship, it is time to reestablish democracy in the country.