Venezuela: High Commissioner Bachelet must recommend the creation of a Commission of Inquiry to the Human Rights Council

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, visited Venezuela between 19 and 21 June 2019. During her visit, she met victims of human rights violations and their relatives, civil society organizations and prominent politicians. At a press conference held at the end of her visit, Michelle Bachelet said she had made several agreements with the government of Nicolás Maduro, including the establishment in the country of a permanent two-person team from her office to provide technical assistance and advice and to continue to monitor the grave human rights situation.

Amnesty International considers these agreements to be a step forward. However, in the coming months there must be substantial changes if the living conditions of Venezuelans are to begin to improve, given the crisis of massive human rights violations and impunity that the country has experienced and the serious consequences for the population, including the forced migration of 4 million refugees in recent years.

The tragic reality in Venezuela demands that the UN put all its resources into addressing the human rights crisis and establish a Commission of Inquiry under the supervision of the Human Rights Council when High Commissioner Bachelet reports the findings of months of research by her team and of her visit on 5 July.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

“These basic agreements that Nicolás Maduro’s government has accepted, in the context of the visit of High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, will spur the victims and the organizations that support them to continue their search for truth, justice and reparation for the serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity that the population has faced in recent years,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“High Commissioner Bachelet has heard from the victims the heart-breaking everyday reality for people in Venezuela. Day after day, millions of people in the country face a lack of basic services, food and medicines, as well as constant persecution and repression by the security forces under the command of Nicolás Maduro.”

Amnesty International has documented the serious human rights violations and crimes under international law in Venezuela, including following the worsening of the crisis in January 2019. It has documented extrajudicial executions, the unlawful use of lethal force, the mass arbitrary detentions and ill-treatment of people who express opposition to the Maduro government, as well as the serious consequences of the violations of people’s economic and social rights.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will present its report on the human rights situation in Venezuela on 5 July in Geneva in an enhanced interactive dialogue with states that are members of the Human Rights Council. Amnesty International hopes that the report will recommend the creation of a commission of inquiry, as the previous Commissioner did in his reports on Venezuela in 2017 and 2018.  

High Commissioner Bachelet has heard from the victims the heart-breaking everyday reality for people in Venezuela. Day after day, millions of people in the country face a lack of basic services, food and medicines, as well as constant persecution and repression by the security forces under the command of Nicolás Maduro
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

“The tragic reality in Venezuela demands that the UN put all its resources into addressing the human rights crisis and establish a Commission of Inquiry under the supervision of the Human Rights Council when High Commissioner Bachelet reports the findings of months of research by her team and of her visit on 5 July,” added Erika Guevara-Rosas.

Additional information:

Amnesty International has documented the pattern of the Nicolás Maduro government’s policy of repression since 2014. Since then, the organization has identified the excessive use of force against demonstrators and of cruel, inhuman treatment and torture to quash social protest. In 2017, it documented patterns of excessive use of force, including lethal force, against people who took part in anti-government demonstrations.

Amnesty International has documented and highlighted the pattern of politically motivated arbitrary detention in recent years through an analysis of 22 emblematic cases of arbitrary detention which involved the use of military courts to try civilians, unlawful detentions by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and restrictions on the freedom of least six prisoners of conscience by the government of Nicolás Maduro.

Amnesty International has also denounced extrajudicial executions; official figures put the number of people killed by the security forces between 2015 and 2017 at more than 8,000. The organization has documented eight cases in depth that reveal a similar pattern of targeting young men living in poverty. As a result of this body of research, the organization has been able to identify the systematic and widespread nature of the actions against the civilian population in January 2019.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Duncan Tucker: duncan.tucker@amnesty.org