The Center for Defenders and Justice (CJD), the Penal Forum, and Amnesty International published a research report Thursday indicating that calculated repression by Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro’s regime could constitute the crime against humanity of persecution.
The trio of human rights organizations collaborated in conducting research for over a year. They found “a correlation between politically motivated arbitrary arrests, carried out by state security officials, and stigmatization, carried out by various media outlets.” The study’s methods and findings were subsequently peer reviewed.
A supplemental fact sheet reports “1,270 arbitrary detentions in Venezuela from January 2019 to June 2021.” It also states that the Bolivarian National Guard participated in numerous arbitrary detentions up until 2020. The following year, the Bolivarian National Police’s Special Action Forces carried out the most arbitrary detentions. Most of these detentions stemmed from state-financed media outlets that stigmatized the detainees.
Amnesty International asserted that Venezuela’s repressive policy promotes “the coordination of attacks and stigmatizing messages broadcast by media with links to Nicolás Maduro’s government and politically motivated arbitrary arrests by the security forces under his command, with a marked pattern of political discrimination.” Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas commented on the report, stating:
The world has known for years about the policy of repression that Nicolás Maduro’s government has put in place. Our research shows that there are instances where there is an extremely high correlation between public stigmatization and politically motivated arbitrary arrests. This correlation is a new indicator of a systematic policy of repression and points to the crime against humanity of persecution, which must be investigated by the international justice system.
Just last November, Maduro’s regime was accused of using excessive force to eliminate demonstrations and to detain political opponents. Some detainees were believed to have been abused and mistreated. An International Criminal Court (ICC) report had previously found a reasonable nexus to support an investigation of certain crimes committed by the Venezuelan government.
In their report, the CJD, the Penal Forum, and Amnesty International recommend that the ICC Prosecutor include the recent study’s findings when investigating Venezuela’s crimes against humanity. They also recommend that the international community “sustain and strengthen support for the International Criminal Court, both financially and politically, contributing to its work against impunity for crimes against humanity.”