UN human rights experts identify 200 extrajudicial killings by Venezuelan police

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UN human rights experts condemned Wednesday several “large-scale” human rights violations in Venezuela that “amount to crimes against humanity.”

By Hannah Brem / Jurist

The United Nations Human Rights Council initiated a fact-finding mission in Venezuela on September 27, 2019, to investigate “patterns of violations, directly and indirectly, affecting all human rights.”

Marta Valiñas, the chairperson of the fact-finding mission, presented an update to the UN Human Rights Council. Valiñas reported that Venezuela’s contested 2020 elections led to a “political climate of exclusion of dissenting voice,” citing the government’s investigation of opposition leaders and prosecution of political protestors. The fact-finding mission also voiced concerns about the treatment of prisoners and reported allegations of torture as well as “sexual and gender-based violence against detainees” held at intelligence sites.

Valiñas then turned to the topic of misconduct by police forces, saying:

In September last year, we highlighted the grave pattern of extrajudicial executions committed by the Venezuelan security forces in the context of security operations. We have identified over 200 killings committed by police forces since the start of the year and will investigate the circumstances around these cases. We will also investigate the involvement of other police forces besides the FAES [Special Actions Force] in these killings.

According to Valiñas, public officials have impeded pushes for accountability for these extrajudicial killings, “failing to release death certificates, charging for autopsies and delivering bodies with the casket closed, with the instruction that it not be opened.”

Valiñas emphasized that her team has contacted the Venezuelan government to “seek dialogue and to be able to conduct inquiries on the ground” for the past year but has not received any response. The fact-finding team will continue to investigate human rights in Venezuela and present further information to the Human Rights Council over the next two years.