The UN denounces “torture” and “widespread and systematic use of excessive force” in Venezuela

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today announced that Venezuelan security forces have “mistreated” and “tortured” in a “widespread and systematic” manner to protesters and detainees. The agency has accused security forces of being responsible for the deaths of at least 46 protesters – from 124 deaths investigated through July 31 in the context of protest rallies – and for carrying out more than 5,000 arbitrary arrests. Pro-government armed groups, the infamous “colectivos armados”, would otherwise be responsible for 27 deaths.

In a number of cases examined by OHCHR, there are plausible indications that the security forces have inflicted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment on detainees, and in some cases have resorted to torture. “The methods used include electric shocks, beatings in which they even used helmets and batons, while detainees were handcuffed, the practice of hanging the wrists for prolonged periods, choking them with gases and threatening them with death – and in some cases with sexual violence – to them and their families, “he said in his statement.

The High Commissioner has expressed concern about the cases of “violent and illegal” searches of houses, which according to the interviewees were carried out without a court order and “allegedly in search of protesters.” He has also denounced that hundreds of people have been tried in military courts and has said that the removal of the prosecutor general of Venezuela, Luisa Ortega, who was removed from his post last Saturday, is cause for “deep concern.” “The removal of the attorney general is in line with what we have been denouncing, that the state Of law in the country has been broken and the fracture is deepening. “