UN Human Rights Assessment Should Guide Agenda of Negotiations in Venezuela

Human Rights Watch

While the government has attempted to show progress and cooperation with the Human Rights Council and its procedures, the reality remains that they have not implemented recommendations made by many human rights mechanisms. For example, during its 2016 Universal Periodic Review, many states recommended that Venezuela permit genuine expression of dissent, release people arbitrarily detained, curb abuses by security forces, and strengthen judicial independence. None of those recommendations have been implemented.

Instead, the Nicolás Maduro government’s crackdown on dissent continues without any meaningful justice in Venezuela for victims. Authorities harass and prosecute independent journalists and civil society organizations working to address the country’s ongoing human rights and humanitarian emergency, which has left millions of Venezuelans unable to access basic health care and adequate nutrition. More than 6 million Venezuelans have fled the country, generating the largest migration crisis in Latin America.

The outcome of the UPR should be a guide to establishing a human rights agenda to serve as a benchmark during negotiations between representatives of Maduro’s government and the opposition, to restore the rule of law and the exercise of fundamental rights in Venezuela, including by:

  • Ending censorship and repression against political opponents, journalists, human rights defenders,
  • Freeing all political prisoners,
  • Reforming the Bolivarian National Police and dissolving the FAES police force (Special Actions Force of Venezuela or Fuerza de Acciones Especiales, FAES),
  • Overhauling the judiciary,
  • Investigating human rights violations including up the chain of command,
  • Allowing apolitical humanitarian aid into the country, and
  • Ensuring conditions for free and fair elections.

We call on member states to press Venezuelan authorities to implement the UPR recommendations and ensure that Venezuela’s devastating human rights and humanitarian emergency is front and center in any political negotiation.

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