Restriction of civic space in Venezuela is worrying, says UN human rights chief

Photo: Denis Balibouse – Reuters

 

Restrictions on civic space in Venezuela remain a cause for concern, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Monday.

By Reuters – Sarah Kinosian and Sonya Hepinstall

Jul 5, 2021

Bachelet’s office said it documented 97 incidents of “stigmatization, criminalization and threats against dissenting voices, particularly towards civil society, media and members of the opposition” from June 2020 to May 2021.

The vast majority of those incidents involved individuals criminally charged for “legitimate forms of civic engagement,” Bachelet said.

The arrest of three members of NGO FundaRedes was a “worrying example” of this kind of criminalization, she said.

Javier Tarazona, the director of NGO FundaRedes, which has been the most active entity denouncing abuses and illicit activities by irregular Colombian armed groups in Venezuela, and two others were charged with instigation of hatred, treason and terrorism on Saturday.

The report also raised concerns about conditions in detention centers, due process, and access to basic services, and called for vaccines to be available to all.

“I call for all detained persons to be guaranteed access to adequate food, water, sanitation and sanitary care,” said Bachelet.

In response, Venezuela’s foreign ministry released a statement on Twitter, saying “from a handful of alleged complaints of human rights violations, they made unverified accusations.”

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