UN calls on Venezuela to address human rights violations amid political unrest

UN calls on Venezuela to address human rights violations amid political unrest

[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] issued a report [text, PDF] on Wednesday highlighting the human rights violations abuses that have been committed in Venezuela amid this year’s anti-government protests. Since the beginning of April, the Attorney General has reportedly initiated [press release] at least 1,958 investigations into reported injuries occurring during protests, with such injuries increasing in severity as months have passed. More than 5,000 protestors have been detained since April, with 1,000 people still detained as of the end of July. The UN has also reported 124 deaths, with 46 attributed to government forces and 27 to pro-government armed forces called colectivos. In light of overwhelming reports of violence against civilians, political opponents, and media workers, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] has called on the UN and Venezuela to take further measures to prevent human rights violations in the country. According to Hussein, evidence of systematic excessive force, detentions, torture and the silencing of political dissent indicate that Venezuelans’ rights and freedoms are being violated. Zeid has stressed the importance of properly and impartially reporting human rights abuses, scaling back detentions, and reducing the country’s state of violence and political tension.

Venezuela has been going through significant political unrest between the government and anti-government opposition recently. Earlier this month Venezuela’s new chief prosecutor announced plans [JURIST report] to pursue and imprison those responsible for leading violent protests. Also this month, Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly created [JURIST report] a Commission for Truth, Justice and Public Legitimacy that will be able to strip the public duties from those that are found to have acted in the protests. Also in August the Venezuela Supreme Court ordered the arrest [JURIST report] and removal of the mayor of Chacao, Ramon Muchacho. Muchacho was sentenced to 15 months in prison after he refused to take down barricades set up during anti-government demonstrations. In July violent protests erupted [JURIST report] after a controversial election for a new assembly that would have the power to rewrite the nation’s constitution. Earlier in July Venezuela’s opposition party made a call [JURIST report] for a 48-hour general strike to be held in response to the scheduled election. A non-binding referendum vote [JURIST report] was held in Venezuela earlier in July in regards to the proposed new constitution which showed that 98 percent of the voters rejected the new constitution. The vote was boycotted by many government supporters. In May the National Assembly also declared [JURIST report] that there was a breakdown of constitutional order and that the government had staged a coup by blocking an attempt to remove Maduro from power. Instability peaked on March 30 when the Supreme Court of Venezuela dissolved [JURIST report] the opposition-controlled National Assembly and assumed all legislative powers.