UN Human Rights chief calls for Venezuela reforms

UN Human Rights chief calls for Venezuela reforms

Opposition supporters confront Venezuelan security forces at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela. March 10, 2020. Photo: AFP


United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is calling on Venezuela to release all political prisoners and end the repression of political and civil rights.

By VOA – Voice of América – Lisa Schlein

Sep 26, 2020

In November, Penal Forum, a Venezuelan network of criminal defense lawyers reported there were 400 government opponents in Venezuela prisons. Bachelet presented an update of conditions in Venezuela before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

While the report presents a generally a bleak picture of human rights in Venezuela, Bachelet said there are a few bright spots. She welcomed the recent pardon by President Nicolas Maduro’s government of 110 political opponents who had been detained for months and the release of 40 others.

However, she said many dissidents and human rights defenders still are arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for exercising their civic and democratic rights. She said they too should be released.

There are still cases of repression of peaceful protesters in the state of emergency that has been in place since March, including the detention of people protesting because of low wages and the lack of public services and the lack of fuel .… There are also restrictions on freedom of expression. This includes the application of the anti-hatred legislation, and also legislation against human rights activists,” Bachelet said.

The U.N. refugee agency reports an estimated 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 because of persecution and economic hardship. Many have since returned home because COVID-19 restrictions have made it impossible for them to earn a living in their countries of refuge.

Bachelet said she is concerned some Venezuelan authorities are stigmatizing migrants returning to the country. She said many are being blamed for bringing COVID-19 to Venezuela and some are being detained.

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