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Venezuela ordered the killing and torture of critics, UN investigators say

GENEVA – UN investigators said on Wednesday that President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and other senior officials ordered or contributed to the arbitrary killings, torture and sexual violence perpetrated by state security services and called for criminal investigations to determine the extent of their involvement.

A three-member international inquiry mission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council said it “had reasonable grounds to believe” that Mr Maduro, the interior minister, defense minister and directors of Venezuela’s security and intelligence services “ordered or contributed to the”

; arbitrary detention and torture of critics and extrajudicial executions.The panel added that they also failed to take preventive action to control the abuses, even though they had effective powers to do so.

The investigation focused on events since 2014, when the opposition to Mr. Maduro’s government gathered power, and the authorities resorted to more and more brutal tactics to keep it in power.

In a 411-page report that examined 223 events and reviewed some 2,890 other episodes, the panel said the government systematically committed crimes, some of which were similar to crimes against humanity in the pursuit of two different state policies.

Government critics and their relatives and friends were targeted to deter and quell opposition to Mr. Maduro, said the panel. Security services also arbitrarily killed people who were perceived as criminals in so-called operations for the liberation of the people as part of a breakdown of crime with the aim of gaining popularity before the election to the National Assembly.

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