UN rights expert urges US and others to drop sanctions against Venezuela
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UN rights expert urges US and others to drop sanctions against Venezuela

The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, Alena Douhan, on Friday urged the US, the EU and other states to lift unilateral sanctions imposed against Venezuela, claiming that they have only “exacerbated pre-existing calamities.”

Douhan, who had been traveling around Venezuela for two weeks talking to “the widest range of people to listen to their experience and insights,” said in her preliminary report that sanctions have crippled Venezuela, leading to an “economic, humanitarian and development crisis.” She said:

Lack of necessary machinery, spare parts, electricity, water, fuel, gas, food and medicine, growing insufficiency of qualified workers many of whom have left the country for better economic opportunities, in particular medical personnel, engineers, teachers, professors, judges and policemen, has enormous impact over all categories of human rights, including the rights to life, to food, to health and to development.

According to Douhan, the devastating effects of the sanctions have only been “multiplied by extra-territoriality and over-compliance,” and are felt by all facets of society, both public and private. However, they are felt most keenly by those most vulnerable: women, children, medical workers, people with disabilities or life-threatening or chronic diseases, the homeless and indigenous populations.

Sanctions were first imposed against Venezuela in 2005 and have been buttressed since. In particular, the US began expanding its economic sanctions against Venezuela in 2017, in an effort to pressure President Nicolás Maduro to step down from office.

Venezuela’s opposition party, led by Juan Guaidó, responded to Douhan’s report with reproval. In a tweet posted on Saturday, Guaidó’s envoy to the UN, Miguel Pizarro, expressed his regret that a UN rapporteur would lend herself to “the propaganda and narrative that excuses the regime from its responsibility in the humanitarian emergency and the violation of human rights in the country.” Pizarro said he was disappointed that Douhan had failed to mention Maduro’s “corruption, inefficiency, political violence and the use of hunger as a tool of social and political control.”

Douhan plans to issue a full report in September.