UN Report: Venezuela Continues to Commit Crimes Against Humanity

Written by Ciara Perez

September 26, 2022

On Tuesday, September 20th, the UN released an investigation conducted by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela. This is the third investigation carried out since 2019, and it highlights the chain of command of those responsible for committing crimes against humanity as well as an investigation into the Southern mining areas of Venezuela. While the Mission has been repeatedly denied access to enter Venezuela, its findings are based on visits to areas along the country’s borders as well as 245 confidential interviews and the analysis of case files and legal documents.

The investigation concluded that President Nicolás Maduro and his inner circle are directly responsible for giving orders to commit crimes against humanity to repress dissent. The evidence also points to the involvement of two state military and civilian intelligence services – the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) and the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). The crimes committed by the government and other high-ranking officials include the beating, rape, electric shock, mutilation and asphyxiation of those who would speak out against the Venezuelan government, namely journalists, activists, political opposition, protestors, and human rights defenders.  

Through interviews with former employees of the security and intelligence services, the UN investigation learned that SEBIN would often receive a list of targets from the government who were to be surveilled, falsely accused based on planted evidence, before being wrongly arrested without a warrant or kidnapped. Prior detainees that were held in El Helicoide in Caracas told the UN investigators that they were subjected to torture methods ranging from psychological abuse meant to distort their senses, to sexual violence, to forceful feedings of feces and vomit. The Mission has investigated at least 51 cases involving SEBIN since 2014.

According to the UN Report, “the Mission has documented 122 cases of victims who were detained by the DGCIM, 77 of whom were subjected to torture, sexual violence and/or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment”. These instances were carried out in the DGCIM Boleíta headquarters in Caracas as well as detention centers across the country.

Lastly, the UN investigated an area of gold mining in Southern Venezuela known as Arco Minero del Orinoco. This area was established as a “National Strategic Development Zone” in 2016 by the Venezuelan government so that they could extend their control over the mining of gold and other strategic resources. Now, the area is heavily militarized as State and armed criminal groups fight for control of the mines. The majority Indigenous local population has been caught in the middle of this violence and has been subjected to extortion, murder, disappearances, beatings and sexual violence.

It is these human rights violations, among others, that have fueled Venezuela’s immigration crisis, which has forced almost 7 million people to flee the country since 2015.

The Mission is scheduled to meet with the UN Human Rights Council on September 26th to share the conclusions of the investigation and discuss recommendations.

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