Venezuelan security forces carried out fewer extra-judicial killings in the 12 months through April, a U.N. report said Monday, but it accuses them of a continued pattern of torture or cruel treatment of individuals as well as enforced disappearances and incommunicado detentions.
By AP – Regina García Cano and Jorge Rueda
Jul 5, 2021
The report from U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights calls on the government of President Nicolas Maduro to cease the use of excessive force during demonstrations, dismantle pro-government armed civilian groups and ensure effective and independent investigations of all killings by security forces.
“Accountability remains key to preventing and remedying human rights violations and strengthening the rule of law,” said the report, which covers June 1, 2020, through April 30. “The protection and expansion of civic space is vital to strengthening democracy, fostering inclusive dialogue and addressing the root causes of current challenges.”
“This report is the result of a Resolution promoted by a tiny group of governments with serious internal situations of human rights violations, which conspired to satisfy the policy of ‘regime change’ promoted by the United States of America against Venezuela,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.
The U.N. agency documented 17 killings allegedly linked to security forces – 16 during security operations in places with high rates of violence and crime and one during a protest. The report did not provide numbers for extra-judicial killings in previous years.
In the majority of the cases, the report said, the killers broke into the homes of the victims, most of whom were young men or boys from impoverished communities.
Witnesses described being threatened with death, beaten and dragged by their hair by officers. The report said officers allegedly manipulated evidence and removed bodies from the victims’ homes.
“The events continue to have severe effects in communities, as they instilled fear in the population, generated mistrust in law enforcement, further marginalized poor communities and caused displacement,” the report said.
It also documents nine cases of individuals whose whereabouts were unknown to family and lawyers during their detentions. The agency also says it received reports of people being beaten, electrocuted, sexually violated and threatened with rape by officers.
The agency said it is not aware of actions taken by the National Commission Against Torture, an arm of the Ombudsman’s Office, which is headed by officials close to the government. Critics say the Ombudsman’s Office systemically looks the other way when complaints of human rights violations are reported.