UN launches investigation into human rights violations in Venezuela

The mission should consider "cases of extrajudicial execution, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture".

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Venezuelan opposition supporters demonstrate at the UN in New York on 26 September. JOHANNES EISELE / AFP

The UN Human Rights Council decided Friday (September 27th) to urgently establish a new "Independent international mission" responsible for investigating human rights violations in Venezuela. A resolution was adopted to this effect, proposed in particular by countries of the Lima Group (composed of Latin American countries and Canada) and supported by the European Union.

This mission will have to investigate "On cases of extrajudicial execution, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" committed since 2014.

An unwelcome mission to Caracas

The text of the resolution calls for the mission to be "Deployed urgently" in the country. But Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Jorge Valero, warned before the vote that his country did not intend to cooperate, on the pretext that Caracas has already set up a "Technical cooperation" with the High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN investigators can, however, work from abroad, as they do for example in Syria or Burma.

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British Ambassador Julian Braithwaite stressed that this was a resolution "Proportionate and necessary" against the abuses committed by the "Maduro diet". Venezuela has been going through a deep political crisis since the beginning of the year with the struggle between President Nicolas Maduro and opponent Juan Guaido, who declared himself acting president on 23 January. It has been recognized as such by some fifty countries, including the United States, which is one of its most important supporters, and many European states.

The country is also facing a severe economic crisis, compounded by an oil embargo and financial sanctions imposed by Washington to try to drive Mr. Maduro out of power, and suffers shortages of food and medicine.

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Speaking to the Human Rights Council on behalf of the EU, Morten Jespersen stressed that "The only lasting solution is a peaceful, democratic solution, which should lead to credible presidential elections". Nicolas Maduro obtained a new presidential term in 2018 after an election with highly contested results. The organization of a new ballot is a longstanding claim of the opposition.

New EU sanctions

Meanwhile, the European Union on Friday imposed sanctions on seven members of the Venezuelan security and intelligence forces, including charges of torture., four of which relate to the death of a soldier in detention. This decision brings to 25 the number of Venezuelan officials subject to visa bans and asset freezes in the EU.

The Council of the European Union states that "Four of them are related to the death of the captain (Rafael) Acosta Arevalo ». This naval officer died in late June in a hospital in Caracas as a result of alleged torture in detention. Two Venezuelan soldiers were sentenced Tuesday in Caracas to six years in prison for their responsibility in the death of the officer, who was detained for his alleged involvement in a coup attempt against Nicolas Maduro.


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