November 27, 2022

Venezuela intelligence agencies cracked down on dissent, UN report says

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(CNN Spanish) — The Fact Finding Mission created by the United Nations Human Rights Council presented its third report on Venezuela on Tuesday.

In his investigations, he determined that “the documented acts of violence were not carried out by random and disconnected individuals, who acted alone within the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) and the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (Dgcim)”.

The report specifies that many of the officials possibly responsible for violations and crimes between 2014 and the present remain in their positions and others were even promoted. The actions studied include arrests of real and perceived opponents by the government, torture and cruel treatment of detainees, persecution of dissidents and illegal seizure of property, and telephone surveillance without a court order, among others.

The document considers that “the Sebin and the Dgcim were part of a machinery designed and deployed to execute the government’s plan to repress dissent and cement its own control of power,” and that it is a “plan orchestrated at the highest level politician, headed by President Nicolás Maduro and supported by other authorities.” The mission warns that these actions are part of a “deliberate government plan to repress criticism and opposition.”

CNN contacted the Ministry of Communication and Information and the Attorney General’s Office for their reaction to the report, but so far there has been no response. In the past, Attorney General Tarek William Saab has rejected these types of reports and has stated that state agents who committed human rights violations have been prosecuted.

Human rights crisis in Venezuela

In previous reports, this group of investigators had highlighted the role of the intelligence services in the violation of human rights since 2014, “in the context of an attack against real or perceived government opponents.” In the mission’s view, some of these violations constitute crimes against humanity. He assures that they were particularly cruel and that they were committed against particularly defenseless people because they were detained. They refer to illegal detentions, followed by acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as sexual and gender-based violence.

On this occasion, details of the supposed functions and contributions of various people at different levels of the chains of command of these organizations are offered, while at the same time urging the authorities to investigate the responsibilities and to act in accordance with the justice system. Similarly, they emphasize that “Venezuela continues to face a profound human rights crisis,” for which they urge the international community to continue monitoring events in Venezuela and to “monitor whether credible progress is being made to guarantee impartial and independent justice.” “.

The press release that accompanies the report details that such actions “lead to the commission of serious crimes and human rights violations, including acts of torture and sexual violence.” In the opinion of the president of the UN investigative mission, Marta Valiñas, “these practices must cease immediately and those responsible must be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with the law.”

On the other hand, the Fact-Finding Mission spoke about the situation in the mining areas of Bolívar state, in the south of the country, where they denounced that “state and non-state actors have committed a series of violations and crimes against the populations premises in gold mining areas.

In the context of the struggle for control of these extraction areas, the mission identified homicides, disappearances, extortion, corporal punishment, and sexual and gender-based violence.

To prepare their report, the members of the Fact-Finding Mission, created in 2019, conducted 246 confidential interviews from September 2021 to date with victims, their families, and former officials of the security and intelligence services. Some of these interviews were done in person, others by phone or video calls.

Several court files and other documents were also analyzed. During the three years that the mission has been in existence, the Venezuelan government has not authorized its access to Venezuelan territory. The Venezuelan Executive argues that there is a political use of this group and that the objective is to attack the legitimate institutions of the Venezuelan State.

As part of its work, the mission has documented 122 cases of victims subjected to torture, sexual violence and/or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment allegedly perpetrated by Dgcim agents and 51 cases allegedly committed by Sebin agents since 2014.

The renewal of the mandate of the Fact Finding Mission is not yet assured. It is expected that this report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council and that in October the mandate will be extended if the majority of the 47 countries that make up the council approve it.



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