He President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, its Ministers of the Interior and Defense, and the high military, police and intelligence commanders are considered among those responsible for violations of human rights so serious that, in certain cases, they constitute crimes against humanity.
An International Mission that was commissioned by the UN to investigate the situation in Venezuela explicitly pointed out this Wednesday the responsibility of some of the highest political positions of the country in systematic violations of human rights.
Details are set out in a 411 page report which will be presented to the Human Rights Council on the 23rd.
According to the research, the most common crimes committed by the security forces since 2014 have been extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture, directed at three groups in particular: protesters, opposition citizens or citizens perceived as such and alleged criminals.
The president of the Mission, Marta Valiñas, said that the Mission she led – made up of two other members and a technical support team – reviewed 2,500 incidents involving 4,600 murders “committed by the security forces, and that we can consider extrajudicial executions “.
For his part, Commissioner Francisco Cox Vial specified in a virtual press conference with journalists in Geneva that the Mission received information from various sources that gave an account of 3,479 cases of arbitrary detentions for political reasons in the last six years.
The main entities involved in the crimes are the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) and in particular the Special Action Forces (FAES), the National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), as well as the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), including the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB ).
In its investigation, the Mission not only interviewed victims, relatives, lawyers and witnesses, but also police, military and members of the intelligence services, including some who are still in office, through telematic means.
“We regret that the Government has not responded to any of our communications, not even when we ask for permission to visit the country and meet with authorities,” explained the President of the Mission.
Despite this, the Mission was able to gather sufficiently well-founded information that confirms the systematic and generalized pattern of abuses that affect the general population.
Of Maduro’s responsibility, Cox said that the Mission obtained information indicating that the president has on occasions given orders directly to the director of SEBIN to follow someone in particular.
The person in question was placed under surveillance, information was gathered about her, her communications were intercepted and then she was detained without a warrant, “just because there was an order from the president,” he explained.
When it came to suppress an opponentNot only was this the victim, but also his family, friends, colleagues and activists who defended him, and it is now known that in many cases the SEBIN “falsified evidence”, for which it placed an alleged crime test on the victim’s house, mostly weapons.
Another tactic has been to distort the outcome of raids at home or vehicle inspections.
On the other hand, the Mission discovered numerous acts of torture, such as beatings, suffocation with water or toxic products, sexual violence, mutilation, electric shocks and various forms of psychological torture.
Some detainees have been forced to stay naked for several days.
All this was aimed at making them sign “confessions” or documents testifying that their rights had been respected.
Another lesser known aspect of these crimes is that in many cases the victims were minor offenders or people who allegedly belonged to criminal gangs, who were executed to eliminate what the government considers bad elements.
This has occurred above all in police operations, where the agents received authorization to kill, although the official version stated that the victim had died because he resisted arrest or opened fire.
The Mission mentions in its report that it believes that the Police covered up the murders by simulating confrontations, destroying evidence, putting a pistol in the victim’s hand, and firing to leave traces of gunpowder.
In almost all the investigated cases, it was found that the Police practically ransacked the victim’s house, taking food, clothing, electronic devices and all valuables.
Several sources told commissioners that this had become a incentive to murder, in view of the low wages of the policemen.