Latest human rights report on Venezuela disingenuous, politically motivated

Latest human rights report on Venezuela disingenuous, politically motivated

Alvaro Sanchez
Cordero

Friday, September 25, 2020

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In response to articles by Reuters and The Associated Press (AP) – reprinted in Barbadian newspapers -- about the 'Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela' by the United Nations Human Rights Council, I find imperative to explain both its flaws and political motivations, which go beyond a genuine concern about the protection of human rights.

First of all, the manner in which the work of this fact-finding mission was carried out -- approved by resolution 42/25 of the Human Rights Council on September 27, 2019, with the favourable vote of only 40 per cent (19 votes) of the members of the Human Rights Council, 21 abstentions and seven votes against -- violates the set of rules that regulate the functioning of the Human Rights Council, as according to General Assembly Resolution 60/251 the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue, as well as aimed at strengthening the capacity of member states to comply with human rights.

As it is generally known, the independent international fact-finding mission to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was rejected by the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in December 2019, for Venezuela was already working at that time in coordination with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in the context of the letter of understanding signed between both parties in September 2019, in accordance with Resolution A/HRC/42/4 and adopted by the Human Rights Council at its 42nd session. It is expected that said letter of understanding shall be renewed for another year at the 45th session of the Human Rights Council.

Furthermore, the mechanism of this international mission was disregarded and rejected by Venezuela, for it was articulated by a group of countries that in 2019 were fully aligned with the US strategy of building a false dossier against Venezuela as part of their open agenda of building a parallel pseudo-Government, which at that time, and until today, has sought to isolate the legitimate institutions of the country. The report resulting from this politically aligned and biased mission against the Venezuelan State is therefore rooted in the efforts of the US Government and also those of the Organization of American States (OAS) under the auspices of Luis Almagro and the so-called Lima Group, with the clear aim of politicising human rights in order to criminalise the Venezuelan institutions.

It is clear that the report of this commission does not recognise, and intends to affect, the work that the Venezuelan State has been conducting with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In addition, it is pertinent to point out that this is a politically motivated report with serious methodological deficiencies that discredit it, namely:

1) It was not carried out in the field, but remotely, based on biased and partial opinions about the national reality. Also, it did not consider sources or official data or data emanating from different instances of the Venezuelan State structure.

2) The collection of information is limited to citing alleged “sources” (unverifiable, unfounded or fabricated), as well as “digital information”, which to a large extent lacks scientific rigour. In addition, it makes invisible the rigorous work in defence of human rights carried out by the public prosecutor's office and the entire Venezuelan justice system.

3) In several of the cases cited by the report, there are inconsistencies, incomplete information, as well as selectively chosen and concernedly justified information. For example:

a) The report states that the Truth Commission, created by the National Constituent Assembly, ceased to function on December 31, 2019 (Paragraph 132). This statement is completely false, given that the commission is still operating. Indeed, in August 2020 its mandate was extended until the end of 2020 by means of a constituent decree published in the official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This reveals that the fact-finding mission did not review the country's laws and decrees, which is evidence of their lack of rigour.

b) The report disregards the denunciation by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the American Convention and the Charter of the Organization of American States (Paragraph 24), giving legitimacy to the actions carried out by those who seek to usurp the exercise of government in the country. Thus, the fact-finding mission ignores the position taken by the UN General Assembly, the secretary general and the high commissioner, all of whom recognise the legitimacy of the Government of the President of the Republic Nicolás Maduro Moros. This is an indisputable evidence of the politicised view of the report's authors.

The report denounces the perpetration of crimes against humanity without any basis, establishing that security bodies such as the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) have committed acts of torture and human rights abuses against individuals deprived of their liberty. These accusations are supported by anonymous interviews that are impossible to contrast and without any documentation to back them up.

With absolute lightness, the report falsely states that the president of the republic was aware of the alleged human rights violations and did nothing to prevent or sanction them, ignoring the countless public, notorious, and communicational statements of President Nicolas Maduro calling the security forces to exercise authority and abide to laws, regulations, and the observance of human rights.

It is necessary to reiterate that the report has sought to ignore the work in defence of human rights carried out by the public prosecutor's office and the entire Venezuelan justice system in terms of achievements in the struggle to clarify and sanction cases that would have involved human rights violations carried out by police or military officials. In this regard, the following actions, achieved in the last three years, ought to be highlighted:

1) Some 565 state security officials have been charged for allegedly violating human rights, while 31 civilians have been implicated as collaborators in these actions; thus, totalling 596 accused. Of these, 143 belonged to the Scientific, Penal and Criminalistics Investigation Corps and 138 to the Bolivarian National Police.

2) Also, a total of 447 officials from various agencies and 21 individuals were apprehended, totalling 468 prisoners, of whom 109 belonged to the Bolivarian National Police.

3) A total of 804 officials and 123 civilians have been charged, making a total of 927 charged, through the filing of 375 indictments by specialised prosecutors in this area.

4) In addition, a total of 127 state security officials and 13 civilians were sentenced, for a total of 140 convictions, 36 of them from the Bolivarian National Police and 26 from the Bolivarian National Guard.

It is important to emphasise that all these actions by the public prosecutor's office have been recognised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in her reports on Venezuela. Likewise, the Venezuelan public prosecutor's office maintains permanent communication with its team in the country to review specific cases and to discuss new forms of collaboration.

The report aims to generate a politicised smear media campaign through a partial analysis of the fundamental political events that have taken place during the Nicolas Maduro Administration from 2013 onwards, with the intention of shifting responsibility to the Bolivarian Government as the architect of the political and institutional crises of recent years, covering up the agendas of political violence, attempted coups d'état and assassinations in a degree of frustration -- all events promoted, financed, and executed by Venezuelan Opposition actors with international support, especially from the US and Colombian governments.

It should be noted that the report was hastily presented before the 45th session of the Human Rights Council, and also in the context of the tour of Venezuela's neighbours by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and on the eve of a meeting of the so-called International Contact Group with Venezuela. The report is also released in the run-up to the organisation and discussion of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Venezuela, to be held on December 6, 2020. There is therefore no doubt that this politically motivated report aims to torpedo the negotiation process achieved between the government and a large sector of the Opposition, which has expressed its intention to participate in the above-mentioned parliamentary elections.

Another objective of the report is to hinder the dialogue, cooperation, and technical assistance between the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Office of the UN high commissioner for human rights, whose joint work has been flowing and showing satisfactory results from 2019 to the present.

In addition, I must underline the questionable moral authority in the field of human rights of some of the members of the commission that drafted the report.

Finally, the topic of human rights is one of the most fundamental issues of the Bolivarian Revolution, and we are determined to defend them. In the last 21 years, public policies have been put in place to eradicate poverty under the principles of universality, equality, inclusion, solidarity, and social justice. Among other achievements, the Venezuelan Government has recognised the rights of Indigenous and Afro-descendant people, incorporating their multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual character. Furthermore, there are more than four million pensioners in Venezuela, while more than three million social houses have been built in the past nine years. As part of our commitment, President Nicolas Maduro launched the National Human Rights Council in 2014 as an effort to strengthen Venezuela's public policies in human rights.

This report against Venezuela, prepared from third-party countries, does not only affect Venezuela, its institutions, and its people, it also calls into question the probity of the Human Rights Council and weakens the entire multilateral system that regulates it. The sacred institution of human rights is being jeopardised, while this type of selective and deeply biased action will be the cause of suspicion on the part of other states that may be susceptible to aggressions of this nature under the alleged manipulation of such a sensitive issue in international relations.

 

Alvaro Sanchez Cordero is charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to Barbados. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or prensaembaven@gmail.com.


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