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Venezuelan authorities committed 'crimes against humanity': UN

Krishna Mani Rao R.

21st September 2020

Venezuela minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza holds a picture while speaking during the United Nations Security Council meeting about the situation in Venezuela. (Source: Reuters)

President Nicolas Maduro and his government committed 'crimes against humanity' which include torture and killings, according to a report by investigators of the United Nations (UN). This fact-finding mission by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) claimed the crimes that were documented were allegedly supported or done by Maduro and his interior and defense ministers with the motive to silence the opposition. 

The report was based on more than 270 interviews with witnesses, victims, officials and lawyers and references to multiple documents. The report and the panel suggested that multiple officers from the military, police and the intelligence agencies like FAES, PNB had committed extrajudicial killings. An FAES training video authenticated by the UN mission even shows that officers were encouraged to "kill criminals without compassion."

"Security forces used lethal force against the victim when it was not strictly unavoidable to protect lives. Security forces also used less-lethal weapons in a lethal manner, which resulted in the death of the demonstrators", the report elaborated. The panel also believed that the intelligence agencies had been falsifying reports and planting evidence on the victims.

Panel Chair Marta Valinas, in his statement to the UNHCR, said that the authorities and the security forces have been planning and executing serious human rights violations which include arbitrary killing and the systematic use of torture methods since 2014. Marta also went on to add, "Far from being isolated acts, 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 must stop. And impunity must end. Venezuelan authorities must immediately carry out prompt, effective, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigations into the violations and crimes, bringing perpetrators to account and providing justice for victims," Valinas said.

Sources: Reuters, OHCHR

Edited by Mridula Kumar

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