Press release March 11, 2021
Venezuela: UN Fact-Finding Mission Underscores Grave and Persistent Rights Abuses
The mission’s rigorous documentation clearly demonstrates sustained and severe human rights abuses in Venezuela, as well as impunity for the perpetrators.
In response to the UN Fact Finding Mission’s (FFM) oral update on the human rights situation in Venezuela before the UN Human Rights Council, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Freedom House commends the FFM’s oral update to its report published in September 2020, which reaffirms that the human rights violations occurring in Venezuela could amount to crimes against humanity. The FFM’s rigorous documentation counters the regime’s false narrative of cooperation with the United Nations, clearly demonstrates sustained and severe human rights abuses, and highlights the scarcity of official investigations into those abuses or consequences for perpetrators,” said Gerardo Berthin, director for Latin America and Caribbean programs at Freedom House.
“Since the beginning of this year, as the FFM noted, the regime has enacted unconstitutional laws, arbitrarily detained members of the political opposition and journalists, attacked independent media, imprisoned health care workers for reporting on COVID-19, and criminalized the work of human rights defenders and humanitarian organizations. The regime has inflicted torture and other inhumane treatment on prisoners, including withholding critical medical care, as was the case for the Pemón indigenous leader Salvador Franco, who died in jail in January. Moreover, suspected extrajudicial executions by the state’s Special Action Forces (FAES) that have killed at least 200 Venezuelans, mostly in low-income communities, have also persisted this year.”
Yesterday, we also saw Human Rights Council member states express grave concern about and sharp condemnation of these abuses, and of pervasive impunity in Venezuela. Many also scorned the Maduro regime’s insistent rejection of culpability for human rights violations. Freedom House supports the FFM’s efforts to bring truth to light and to promote justice for victims. We urge Human Rights Council members to continue to support the FFM and ensure it receives adequate funding to carry out its critical mission effectively. We also urge the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to work closely with the FFM’s experts to press the Maduro regime to allow UN special rapporteurs to visit Venezuela and document the human rights situation firsthand. Finally, we sincerely hope for a peaceful, democratic, negotiated solution to Venezuela’s crisis that will protect human rights and offer Venezuelans the truth, justice, and peace they deserve.”
In September 2019, the UN Human Rights Council passed resolution 42/25 to establish an independent Fact Finding Mission for Venezuela (FFM) with a one-year mandate to evaluate presumed human rights violations committed since 2014. In October 2020, after the FFM presented a scathing report, the Council renewed the FFM’s mandate for two more years, until 2022. The FFM offered an oral update to its September report on March 10, 2021, reiterating that the abuses it documented in Venezuela could be considered crimes against humanity. The FFM will publish a written update in September.
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