UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday rebuked the government of Venezuela for its restrictions on civic space. Bachelet’s office noted that in the most recent one-year period surveyed, there were 97 relevant incidents deemed to be of concern.
According to a report, these 97 incidents involved acts of criminalization, threats, and stigmatization by the government. These acts were committed against media employees, opposition politicians and their supporters, and even ordinary members of the public. These incidents occurred between June 2020 and May 2021.
Bachelet’s Comments on Venezuela
Bachelet added that most of the incidents involved individuals who had received criminal charges for “legitimate forms of civic engagement.” The most recent such incident was the arrest of three members of FundaRedes, a human rights NGO.
FundaRedes opposes abuses and other illicit activities which Colombian armed groups in Venezuela commit. On Saturday, authorities made three arrests of its members. These members were its director Javier Tarazona and his colleagues Rafael Tarazona and Omar García. They were accused of terrorism, incitement to hatred, and treason.
This same report showed that conditions in Venezuela’s detention centres were generally unfit to adequately sustain detainees. There was also a lack of due process as well as a lack of access to basic services.
However, not all of Bachelet’s remarks on Venezuela were negative. She praised the country’s reforms of its justice system and police force. In addition, Bachelet mentioned Venezuela’s decline in alleged deaths in protest and security operations as well as impunity. In addition, Venezuela’s leading prosecutor agreed to provide Bachelet and her office with access to case files of human rights violations.
The Response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Nevertheless, the overall negative tone of Bachelet’s comments prompted an immediate response from Venezuela’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry released a statement on Twitter. This statement claimed that “from a handful of alleged complaints of human rights violations, (Bachelet) made unverified accusations.”
In addition, the ministry also regarded the report as a “lie constructed to artificially feed a case before the International Criminal Court with the political objective of destabilizing the country’s democratic institutions.“
Human Rights in Venezuela
Despite the ministry’s claims, Venezuela consistently falls short in various areas of human rights. The country’s ranking of 7.8 on the Human Rights Violations index is the worst in South America. This index measures human rights violations in a country as they pertain to topics such as press freedom, political freedoms, political prisoners, torture, and civil liberties.
In 2010, the country had a Human Rights Violations ranking of 7.2. The larger the number, the greater the degree of human rights violations in the country. Therefore, the human rights situation in Venezuela has worsened over time.
6th July 2021 13:07
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