After investigating 223 cases of alleged extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture and reviewing a further 2,891 to confirm patterns of transgression and crime, the UN independent international erroneous mission in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela found that the Venezuelan government, as well as other state agents and groups working with them had committed “serious violations.”
“The mission found reasonable cause to believe that since 2014, Venezuelan authorities and security forces have planned and executed serious human rights violations, some of which ̵
“Far from being isolated acts, these crimes were coordinated and committed according to state policies with the knowledge or direct support of commanding officers and senior officials.”
The 411-page report is the first published by the UN Mission. At the behest of the UN Human Rights Council, it includes 48 in-depth case studies and expands the extrajudicial executions, politically motivated detentions and torture, as well as protest-related violence.
CNN has reached out to the Venezuelan government for comment, but has yet to hear anything back. However, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has repeatedly criticized the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as “biased”.
The report identifies two Venezuelan security forces as responsible for nearly two-thirds of all extrajudicial killings – the Scientific, Criminal and Criminal Investigation Corps (CICPC) and the Special Action Forces (FAES) of the National Bolivarian Police (PNB).
According to the UN report, superiors would give FAES officers a “green light to kill”, and a FAES training video approved by the UN mission shows that officers are encouraged to “kill criminals without compassion.” Officials with PNB / FAES also told the UN mission that it was common practice to cover up killings by planting weapons to simulate “confrontations” – a process officer called “seed” planting.
“Senior officials had effective command and control over the perpetrators and knowledge of their actions, but failed to prevent or suppress the violations,” Marta Valiñas said. “The killings appear to be part of a policy to eliminate unwanted members of society while covering the fight against crime.”
The UN report calls for the dismantling of the FAES and for those responsible for its actions to be held accountable. On their official Instagram account, FAES has published repeated denials of news stories about officers’ abuse. The account also contains footage of their officers performing arrests and “community services” such as food distribution.
In addition to extrajudicial killings, the UN mission also investigated politically motivated repression and torture alleged by Venezuelan intelligence agencies, namely the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and the Directorate-General for Military Counter-Investigation (DGCIM). The UN mission found that while SEBIN targeted political dissidents, human rights activists and others perceived as anti-government, the DGCIM targeted military personnel and allied civilians allegedly involved in riots or coup attempts.
According to the report, the victims were kept outside the official prison system and a fair trial was violated: they were accused of false crimes and evidence was planted. Detention often involved “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”, and a former SEBIN director told the UN mission that a “cultural behavior” of torture existed in the intelligence service.
Violence in Venezuela is not limited to state security forces, especially in recent years, when the government began to increasingly rely on armed civilian groups – known as colectivos – to help maintain public order. The report showed that the authorities did not go in when protesters were killed by these groups.
“Violations must stop. And impunity must end. The Venezuelan authorities must immediately conduct rapid, effective, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigations into violations and crimes, bringing perpetrators to justice and giving justice to the victims,” Valiñas said, calling. for other international bodies, such as The International Criminal Court, to consider lawsuits against those responsible for the crimes identified by the UN mission. “Victims must be fully compensated for the damage they have suffered.”