Statement by Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Venezuela report at the 53rd Human Rights Council.
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Edited News , Statements | OHCHR

HRC 53: Interactive Dialogue on High Commissioner's Report on Venezuela - 05 July 2023

The authorities continue to facilitate visits to civilian detention centres, and interviews with detainees, by my team. Last month, my staff were also able to visit two military detention centres,” Türk said.

“In addition, they were given access to 13 prosecution case files and three judicial hearings, and had direct exchanges with prosecutors on cases and issues identified by OHCHR, expanding engagement with the Office of the General Attorney to new areas of cooperation. This has enabled the formulation of precise recommendations for greater compliance of investigations and trials with international human rights standards, he said.  

The Office of the Attorney General has also agreed to develop a protocol for the investigation of gender-based killings, or femicides, addressing an important recommendation of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The High Commissioner encourages further measures to advance women’s rights, including by amending restrictive legislation on abortion.

I note with appreciation the March 2023 judgement of the Supreme Court that de-criminalized same-sex relations in the Code of military justice, and I encourage additional measures to advance the rights of LGBTIQ+ people,” Türk said.

 

The number of documented killings by agents of the State, as well as reports of torture and ill-treatment, continue to decrease,” he said.

 

Official reports indicate that in 2022, 362 officials were indicted, and 47 convicted, for torture and ill-treatment. The UN Human Rights Office has received information about 91 other complaints of torture submitted by victims and their representatives since 2018, and I urge the authorities to ensure adequate follow up, without exception, and in full transparency.

 

There have been prolonged delays in the investigation of deaths during protests that took place in 2014, 2017 and 2019. Moreover, of the 101 deaths that the UN Human Rights  Office has documented in the context of security operations, only eight have been brought to trial.

 

I repeat my call to release all those who are unlawfully or arbitrarily detained, including 16 people whose detentions have been deemed arbitrary by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and people whose pre-trial detention has surpassed the legal limit,” Türk said.

 

I am concerned about the case of Javier Tarazona, a leading human rights defender who has been detained for two years, and who is reportedly in poor health. His trial is underway,” he said.

 

Venezuela's upcoming national electoral processes must be transparent, inclusive, and participatory. I urge the lifting of all undue restrictions on the right to participate in public affairs; full compliance with due process; and measures to prevent and sanction attacks, intimidation, and the criminalisation of people voicing dissent” he said.

 

Reports of obstacles to free participation in political affairs, including administrative disqualification of members of the opposition from holding office, need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The UN Human Rights Office are closely following developments surrounding the appointment of a new National Electoral Council and would urge respect for the full range of its constitutionally mandated prerogatives.

 

Protests have continued during the reporting period, often centred on demands for economic and social rights, such as better working conditions and wages.

 

The arrest last month of two trade union leaders of the State-run SIDOR steel company in Bolívar State, on charges of incitement to hatred, criminal association, and boycott, is one of several cases of concern to the UN Human Rights Office. Another is the ongoing trial of six union and labour leaders on charges of conspiracy and criminal association, following their arrests a year ago, also reportedly in relation to labour protests.

 

“It is important to support all efforts conducive to inclusive and effective dialogue between Venezuelans. I encourage swift and full implementation of agreements reached to date, including the Mesa Social accord reached in November, and continued discussions that can rebuild trust and a cohesive social contract for the future,” he said in conclusion.

 

ENDS

 

 

For more information and media requests, please contact: 

Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / ravina.shamdasani@un.org or Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 marta.hurtadogomez@un.org  or  Jeremy Laurence +  +41 22 917  9383 jeremy.laurence@un.org 

 

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  1. Exterior shot: Palais des Nations, Geneva.
  2. Wide shot: wide shot room 20
  3. Soundbite (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR):The authorities continue to facilitate visits to civilian detention centres, and interviews with detainees, by my team. Last month, my staff were also able to visit two military detention centres.”
  4. Cut aways: room 20
  5. Soundbite (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR): Inaddition, they were given access to 13 prosecution case files and three judicial hearings and had direct exchanges with prosecutors on cases and issues identified by OHCHR, expanding engagement with the Office of the General Attorney to new areas of cooperation. This has enabled the formulation of precise recommendations for greater compliance of investigations and trials with international human rights standards.
  6. Cut aways: room 20
  7. Soundbite (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR): I note with appreciation the March 2023 judgement of the Supreme Court that de-criminalized same-sex relations in the Code of military justice, and I encourage additional measures to advance the rights of LGBTIQ+ people.”
  8. Cut aways: room 20
  9. Soundbite (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR): The number of documented killings by agents of the State, as well as reports of torture and ill-treatment, continue to decrease.”
  10. Cut aways: room 20
  11. Soundbite (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR): I repeat my call to release all those who are unlawfully or arbitrarily detained, including 16 people whose detentions have been deemed arbitrary by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and people whose pre-trial detention has surpassed the legal limit.”
  12. Cut aways: room 20
  13. Soundbite (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR): I am concerned about the case of Javier Tarazona, a leading human rights defender who has been detained for two years, and who is reportedly in poor health. His trial is underway.”
  14. Cut aways: room 20
  15. Soundbite (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR):Venezuela’s upcoming national electoral processes must be transparent, inclusive, and participatory. I urge the lifting of all undue restrictions on the right to participate in public affairs; full compliance with due process; and measures to prevent and sanction attacks, intimidation, and the criminalisation of people voicing dissent.
  16. Cut aways: room 20
  17. Soundbite (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR): It is important to support all efforts conducive to inclusive and effective dialogue between Venezuelans. I encourage swift and full implementation of agreements reached to date, including the Mesa Socialaccord reached in November last year, rebuilding trust and a cohesive social contract for the future, is the way forward.

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