On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an international investigation into the excessive use of force by the Venezuelan authorities, saying we could be facing crimes against humanity.
My investigation suggests that crimes against humanity may have been committed… I urge the (UN Human Rights) Council to launch an international investigation into human rights violations in Venezuela,”
said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, at the opening in Geneva of the 36th session of this institution.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who was present in the room, rejected those criticisms and accused the High Commissioner of having a “selective, biased and politicized behavior” that results in aggressions against his country.
In his previous speech, Zeid said that there is a
real danger […] that tensions escalate as well as actions by the Venezuelan government against democratic institutions and critical voices, through judicial proceedings against opposition leaders, arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force and ill-treatment of detainees, which in some cases resembles torture.”
Zeid went on to say that
Last month, my office released a report on Venezuelan, stressing the excessive use of force by security officials as well as other multiple human rights violations in the context of anti-government protests.”
In that report, the High Commissioner assured that there is an erosion of democratic life in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan chancellor replied by rejecting this report
plagued by lies and offenses against this country, which seem to respond to US guidelines, the main human rights violator in the world.”
Venezuela is plunged into a serious political, economic and institutional crisis. Clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters have left 125 dead between April and July.
The High Commissioner emphasized that Venezuela is currently one of the 47 member States of the Human Rights Council, and therefore has a duty to defend and promote human rights.
The Venezuelan authorities had refused to allow UN investigators to enter the country, so Zeid commissioned a team of human rights specialists to conduct remote interviews to 135 victims and their families, as well as witnesses, journalists, lawyers, doctors and members of the Office of the Prosecutor General.
In a statement released by Human Rights Watch on behalf of 116 mostly Latin American organizations, human rights defenders explain that
the crisis in Venezuela should be a priority of the UN human rights council.”
In addition, the International Commission of Jurists, a Geneva-based organization, said in a statement that
Venezuela’s Supreme Court has ceased to act as an independent tribunal and has become an extension of an authoritarian leader.”
In his speech, the Venezuelan chancellor attributed “the majority” of the deaths produced in recent unrest in his country to the violent actions of anti-government groups.
He also denounced a
multiform aggression against the Venezuelan economy, propelled by the imperial despair of the United States to destroying the peace and the institutions of Venezuela aiming to control the largest oil reserves of the plane (…).”