UN Says ‘Grave Violations’ of Rights Committed in Venezuela

UN Says ‘Grave Violations’ of Rights Committed in Venezuela(Bloomberg) -- The United Nations called on the Venezuelan government to take “immediate, concrete measures to halt and remedy the grave violations” of economic, social and civil rights, in a report following High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Venezuela last month.Nicolas Maduro’s regime has used social programs in a discriminatory manner based on political grounds as a tool for social control, the report said. At the same time, the ruling authorities persecute groups and individuals it perceives as threats, including members of the opposition. Security forces often resort to torture or inhuman treatment, including electric shocks, suffocation, beatings and sexual violence to extract confessions.The report recommends the dissolution of the national police’s feared Special Action Force, known by the Spanish abbreviation FAES, which it blames for thousands of extrajudicial executions, mainly of young men, who have been killed in confrontations with state forces during recent years. It also calls for the disarmament of colectivos -- gangs loyal to Maduro.“I sincerely hope the authorities will take a close look at all the information included in this report and will follow its recommendations,” Bachelet said in an emailed press release. “We should all be able to agree that all Venezuelans deserve a better life, free from fear and with access to adequate food, water, healthcare, housing and all other basic human needs.”The report comes on the heels of an attack on 16-year-old high school student Rufo Chacon, who was blinded on Monday after police fired buckshot at protesters in the western state of Tachira, and the death of Rafael Acosta Arevalo, a navy captain who died days after he was arrested on treason charges in Caracas. In a hearing the day before his death, Arevalo was seen using a wheelchair, his face bruised and his nails marked with blood.The UN findings also note the shortages of 60 to 100% of essential drugs in four of Venezuela’s major cities, including Caracas. Lack of all types of contraceptives have led to higher risk of HIV and an increase in preventable maternity mortality, with an estimated 20% linked to unsafe abortions.In a 11-page response, Venezuela's government said the UN's report showed ``an openly biased truth'' that minimized measures taken by the state to improve people's lives and ignored official data. It also fails to mention the opposition's violent actions, the statement shared by Venezuela's Information Ministry said.Bachelet’s VisitIn a visit in late June, Bachelet said she spoke to families of people tortured by the government and those of government supporters whose rights have been violated. She also visited opposition leader and National Assembly head Juan Guaido, who raised the issue of the nearly 700 political prisoners detained in Venezuela, according to NGO Penal Forum.In a nod to the Venezuelan government’s claims about the country’s crisis, she acknowledged that recent sanctions have made the situation worse, but added that its economy was already in distress before their implementation.Roughly 4 million citizens have fled Venezuela’s spiraling economic and political crisis, according to the latest figures from the United Nations.Venezuela has denied victims of their “rights to truth, justice, and reparation,” the report said. “If the situation does not improve, the outflow of Venezuelan migrants and refugees will continue, and the living conditions for those remaining will worsen.”(Includes Venezuelan government response in seventh paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Patricia Laya in Caracas at playa2@bloomberg.net;Alex Vasquez in Caracas Office at avasquez45@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Cancel at dcancel@bloomberg.net, Bruce DouglasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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