For months they have studied reports and listened to human rights defenders, security forces and victims. The UN independent mission in Venezuela came to the clear conclusion: Nicolás Maduro’s regime is committing crimes against humanity.
“The mission has reason to believe that since 2014, the Venezuelan authorities and security forces have been planning and carrying out human rights violations, some of which, such as extrajudicial killings and the systematic use of torture, are crimes against humanity,” expert Marta Valiñas said at the presentation. of the Report in Geneva.
“We have information that Maduro has ordered his intelligence chief to arrest political opponents without a court order,” Francisco Cox added. One of the witnesses interviewed was the abandoned intelligence chief Christopher Figueroa.
Maduro had boycotted the work of the UN Human Rights Council mission; The experts therefore opened their office in Colombia, near the border crossing with Venezuela. Many political refugees and dissidents live there.
The Venezuelan opposition welcomed the report. “He makes it clear that Maduro is a criminal who not only engages in drug trafficking and terrorism, but also violates human rights,” tweeted counter-president Juan Guaidó. Secretary of State Jorge Arreaza said on Twitter that the report was flawed, methodologically weak and produced remotely.
On more than 400 pages, the experts have recorded hundreds of cases since 2014, including systematic torture and sexual abuse of prisoners and state death squads carrying out extrajudicial killings.
The report broadly confirms the state terror that Venezuelan civil rights activists have long documented. It is explosive because it paves the way for a trial against Maduro and his accomplices at the International Criminal Court.
Head of state Maduro is called a dictator in this graffito Photo: Carlos Hernandez / Imago
Maduro could become the first Latin American head of state to stand trial there. Justice Access’s Alí Daniels believes, “The precedent is Myanmar. There, a similar mission came to a similar conclusion, and less than a year later the criminal court opened the trial. He told Voice of America.
The special task forces of police and security forces are particularly targeted. The population, in particular, fears the People’s Liberation Operations (OLP) and the Special Actions of the Bolivarian Police (FAES) and the Special Investigation Unit of the CIPC.
They act like death squads. Usually under cover for the night, masked and unmarked, they comb through neighborhoods, randomly arresting people who then disappear or are found murdered.
According to the UN, CIPC and FAES are responsible for nearly two-thirds of government deaths between 2015 and 2019. Members of these task forces admitted that it was customary to subsequently hand over weapons to those executed for combat. to simulate. The UN experts say they have a list of 45 officials involved in human rights violations.