Taking Venezuela’s Human-Rights Crisis Seriously
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's regime has committed large-scale human-rights violations, some of which amount to crimes against humanity. The government's steadfast denial of verifiable facts will merely deepen the country's long-standing political impasse.
NEW YORK – In September 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Council mandated us to investigate alleged human-rights violations in Venezuela – specifically, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Last month, we presented our report to the council.
Our conclusions are clear: Venezuelan state actors have committed large-scale human-rights violations, some of which amount to crimes against humanity. The report names President Nicolás Maduro and the defense and interior ministers as officials who contributed to these abuses. The directors of various intelligence, security, and police forces also were liable, and we have a list of individuals who should be investigated further, owing to their possible involvement.
Predictably, the Maduro regime has scorned the report. No one who follows developments in Venezuela is blind to its polarized politics, which is also reflected in the international arena, where one bloc of countries is deeply critical of Maduro’s regime and another supports it. Since we received our mandate, Venezuela and its allies have tried to create an artificial conflict between our work and that of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).