UN High Commissioner for Human Right Volker Türk Update to the 56th HRC on the human rights situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk Update to the 56th HRC on the human rights situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

As I was concluding my visit to Venezuela in January 2023, I emphasized that my Office was ready to be a bridge-builder between State institutions and people in the country.

Just over a year later, the authorities decided suddenly to suspend my Office’s activities and asked my staff to leave, a deeply regrettable decision that was inconsistent with the Letter of Understanding we had signed,” Türk said. 

 

“I take note of recent indications that the re-establishment of my Office’s presence in Venezuela may be possible. We will continue to engage in this regard, with a view to ensuring appropriate conditions are in place to enable the discharge of my Office’s full mandate,” he said. 

 

Despite official figures indicating a five per cent growth in GDP in 2023, Venezuelans still face serious obstacles to accessing food, health and education. Women, people in rural areas, and Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately affected.

 

Between July and August 2023, reports received by my Office suggest that 74.6 per cent of health centres nationwide lacked medical staff, and 73.5 per cent lacked nursing staff. Abortion continues to be criminalized, leading to unsafe procedures, and resulting in maternal mortality and morbidity,” Türk said

 

Protests for a decent minimum wage and adequate standards of living have continued, as public sector workers and retirees, in particular, struggle to make ends meet.

He urged the authorities to take steps to address all of these concerns – on health, education, food, and dignified remuneration – in line with the State’s international obligations.

 

Sectoral sanctions have exacerbated pre-existing human rights challenges and must be lifted.

 

He noted the release of two union leaders from detention on 24 June. This brings the total number of people who have been released following arbitrary detention since May 2023 to 65, including nine women. Many of these releases are conditional upon regular appearances before the courts. 

 

I reiterate my call for the release of all people who have been arbitrarily detained in Venezuela, including those remaining in pre-trial detention beyond the limits set out in national law. This includes human rights defender Javier Tarazona who on Tuesday completed his third full year in detention, and whose health situation is deteriorating,” the High Commissioner said.

 

Between April 2023 and February 2024, my Office conducted nine visits to detention centres in five different states across the country, and interviewed 146 people deprived of their liberty, including 46 women, with a view to improving detention conditions, including access to health and food,” he said. 

 

In the context of transfers of detainees to the Rodeo I maximum security prison, the High Commissioner is particularly worried about reports of intimidation and ill- treatment of inmates, as well as of their relatives and lawyers, as well as a general lack of information and access for legal counsel and family members.

 

He remains concerned that people continue to be charged with terrorism-related offences that do not comply with international human rights standards, namely the principles of legality and legal certainty, and where there are also issues with the right to a fair trial. The Un Human Rights Office documented 29 cases of individuals prosecuted under relevant legislation in the past year.

 

Since May 2023, my Office also documented 28 cases of detained individuals, some perceived as dissident voices, whose whereabouts were concealed from their relatives and lawyers, despite efforts by their families to seek information from the authorities. This occurred for periods ranging from two to 41 days, thus amounting to enforced disappearance. All allegations of enforced disappearances must be investigated and prosecuted, and the practice must end.

 

The recent verdicts against seven agents of the now dissolved Special Action Force for homicides perpetrated during security operations between 2018 and 2019 are welcome. He urged full accountability for violations during security operations and protests, including by ensuring access to justice and redress for victims.

 

The upcoming presidential elections on 28 July, as well as the local, regional and legislative elections planned for 2025, are key opportunities to respect the people’s will.

I deplore that restrictions on civic space are growing. In fact, the opposite is needed – a free and open space for debate,” Türk said.

 

My Office continues to receive reports of detentions as election day approaches, including of supporters and members of the opposition.This does not augur well, and I urge a change to such practices,” the High Commissioner said.

 

In the last year, OHCHR has documented with concern an increase in threats, harassment and assaults against civil society actors, journalists, unionists, and other voices considered critical, including through arrests and prosecutions, and 38 cases of arbitrary detention. This includes Rocío San Miguel and Carlos Julio Rojas, who have been detained since 9 February and 15 April 2024 respectively, without access to the legal defence of their choosing.

 

UN Human Rights Office also continues to be concerned about the draft bill on non-governmental organizations and their financing, as well as the introduction of a bill against fascism, neo-fascism, and similar expressions, which contains vague and broad definitions.  The High Commissioner also reiterated his appeal to refrain from adopting legislation that would further restrict the right to participate in public affairs, and the freedoms of association and expression. In fact, this was one of the topics he raised in his visit to Venezuela last year.

 

“I encourage the authorities to lift restrictions on civic space, to protect it, and to ensure fully transparent, inclusive, and participatory electoral processes, in line with international standards. I also call on all actors to comply with the commitments made in the Barbados Agreement,” Türk said.

186 cases of femicide were reported between January and November 2023. Investigation into these killings is essential, as are much stronger prevention and response efforts. A protocol developed by the Office of the Attorney General is a first step but much more is needed.

 

Discrimination, disparaging rhetoric by public officials, and violence against LGBTIQ+ people persist. According to one organization 28.7 per cent of LGBTIQ+ people to who they spoke reported having suffered from acts of violence by State security forces.

Violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples also regrettably continue, including in the context of actions to curb illegal mining. I reiterate my calls for demarcation of indigenous territories.

 

The UN Human Rigths office also documented excessive use of force and ill-treatment by law enforcement against Yukpa people in Zulia state. I urge the authorities fully to investigate and prosecute acts of discrimination and violence towards Indigenous Peoples.

             

“Trust-building is the only way forward, especially in this electoral period. I encourage all those in power to make concrete commitments to this end. Now, more than ever, a constructive and open dialogue among the people and with the institutions of the State is crucial to overcome the deep divisions and rebuild the social contract among Venezuelans,” the High Commissioner said.

 

 

ENDS

 

 

In Geneva:

Ravina Shamdasani  - + 41 22 917 9169 / ravina.shamdasani@un.org 

Liz Throssell  + 41 22 917 9296 / elizabeth.throssell@un.org

Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / marta.hurtadogomez@un.org

 

 Tag and share - Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

 

 

 

 

STORY: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk Update to the 56th HRC on the human rights situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

TRT: 04:28

SOURCE: OHCHR
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: English/NATS
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 
DATELINE:  3 July 20242024 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
 

 

SHOTLIST 

1.     Exterior shot: Palais des Nations

2.     Wide shot: Room 20

3.     SOUNDBITE (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: As I was concluding my visit to Venezuela in January 2023, I emphasized that my Office was ready to be a bridge-builder between State institutions and people in the country.

Just over a year later, the authorities decided suddenly to suspend my Office’s activities and asked my staff to leave, a deeply regrettable decision that was inconsistent with the Letter of Understanding we had signed.”

1.     Cut Away: Room 20

2.     SOUNDBITE (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: I take note of recent indications that the re-establishment of my Office’s presence in Venezuela may be possible. We will continue to engage in this regard, with a view to ensuring appropriate conditions are in place to enable the discharge of my Office’s full mandate.”

3.     Cut Away: Room 20

4.     SOUNDBITE (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Between July and August 2023, reports received by my Office suggest that 74.6 per cent of health centres nationwide lacked medical staff, and 73.5 per cent lacked nursing staff. Abortion continues to be criminalized, leading to unsafe procedures, and resulting in maternal mortality and morbidity.”

5.     Cut Away: Room 20

6.     SOUNDBITE (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: I reiterate my call for the release of all people who have been arbitrarily detained in Venezuela, including those remaining in pre-trial detention beyond the limits set out in national law. This includes human rights defender Javier Tarazona who on Tuesday completed his third full year in detention, and whose health situation is deteriorating.”

7.     Cut Away: Room 20

8.     SOUNDBITE (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Between April 2023 and February 2024, my Office conducted nine visits to detention centres in five different states across the country, and interviewed 146 people deprived of their liberty, including 46 women, with a view to improving detention conditions, including access to health and food.”

9.     Cut Away: Room 20

10.  SOUNDBITE (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: The upcoming presidential elections on 28 July, as well as the local, regional and legislative elections planned for 2025, are key opportunities to respect the people’s will. I deplore that restrictions on civic space are growing. In fact, the opposite is needed – a free and open space for debate.”

11.  Cut Away: Room 20

12.  SOUNDBITE (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: My Office continues to receive reports of detentions as election day approaches, including of supporters and members of the opposition.This does not augur well, and I urge a change to such practices.”

13.  Cut Away: Room 20

14.  SOUNDBITE (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: I encourage the authorities to lift restrictions on civic space, to protect it, and to ensure fully transparent, inclusive, and participatory electoral processes, in line with international standards. I also call on all actors to comply with the commitments made in the Barbados Agreement.”

15.  Cut Away: Room 20

16.  SOUNDBITE (English)— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Trust-building is the only way forward, especially in this electoral period. I encourage all those in power to make concrete commitments to this end. Now, more than ever, a constructive and open dialogue among the people and with the institutions of the State is crucial to overcome the deep divisions and rebuild the social contract among Venezuelans.”


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