Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Venezuela Committing Crimes Against Humanity

The UN Human Rights Council sent an Independent International Fact-Finding Mission to Venezuela, and it just issued a report. It's incredibly damning:

While recognising the nature of the crisis and tensions in the country, and the responsibilities of the State to maintain public order, the Mission found the Government, State agents, and groups working with them had committed egregious violations. It identified patterns of violations and crimes that were highly coordinated pursuant to State policies, and part of a widespread and systematic course of conduct, thus amounting to crimes against humanity.

There is a state policy of extrajudicial killings and torture. It says this got going in 2014, which coincides with the aftermath of Hugo Chávez's death and Nicolás Maduro's desperate efforts to stay in power. State violence is all he's got. The National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) normalized torture, which included "stress positions; asphyxiation; beatings; electric shocks; cuts and mutilations; death threats; and psychological torture."

The document itself is over 400 pages and heavily footnoted to demonstrate all the violations of international law. It includes a highly detailed chronology of the political crises that were accompanied by increased use of state violence. At this point, the government targets just about everybody, not just high profile opposition leaders:

Intelligence agencies have also targeted other profiles of people seen to challenge official narratives. This includes selected civil servants, judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers, NGO workers, journalists, and bloggers and social media users.630 In 2020, various health, workers and social media users critical of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic were also detained.631 In July 2020, the Minister of the Interior, Néstor Reverol, announced that Venezuelans who had left the country and are returning would be charged under the Organic Law against Organised Crime and Financing of Terrorism, allegedly for bringing Covid-19 into the country.

Also selectively targeted were people associated with these actors, including families, friends and colleagues or NGO workers and human rights defenders. The questions authorities asked these people while in detention and under interrogation appear to suggest that they were detained to incriminate, extract information about or apply pressure on the main targets. This includes organizations that may have provided funding to opposition movements or received international funding. The measures used against people associated with principal targets often matched or exceeded the severity of that inflicted upon principal targets. 

They even get down to what detention buildings look like inside.

At this point, international organizations can just gather information, which eventually will be used in some manner for accountability once democracy is restored in the country. This is a meticulously documented dictatorship.


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