UN mission widens investigations to “the highest chains of command” in Venezuela

UN mission widens investigations to “the highest chains of command” in Venezuela

The International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela (FFM) reiterated its concern regarding the “limited” scope of the investigations of some conduct that could constitute crimes against humanity, against “low-level” material authorities, for which they are expanding the current investigations to the responsibilities of the “highest” in the chain of command.

During the current update of the 2020 report, Marta Valiñas, president of the FMM, expressed her concern about the detention of several Venezuelans, but specifically about that of Javier Tarazona, director of Fundaredes, an NGO that has denounced the presence in Venezuelan territory of Colombian irregular groups with the consent of the Government of Venezuela.

“The Mission has received information that Mr. Tarazona has been subjected to torture, including psychological or white torture. It is also worrying that the journalist Roland Carreño continues to be detained in El Helicoide, despite the irregularities in his case, ”he said on Friday.

He also considered it worrying that “despite repeated requests”, people identified in previous reports have not received adequate medical attention, including Ermilendris Bénitez, a woman who was arrested for allegedly being linked to the attempted assassination of President Nicolás Maduro. , who was “subjected to torture” and whose health has deteriorated “leaving her prostrate in a wheelchair.”

He also highlighted that in the second half of 2021 there were two deaths in custody of opponents “or perceived as such”, both related to the lack of medical care; one of them is the death of General Raúl Isaías Baduel.

Valiñas insisted that “concerted efforts are needed to address the structural problems stemming from the lack of judicial independence and the interference of political actors in the justice system.”

“The National Assembly announced that it would carry out a package of reforms related to the Justice system. The Mission considers that a legal reform, by itself, is insufficient if it is not properly implemented,” he said.

Some “positive developments”

Although they admit to having registered “positive progress” after the modification of 19 articles of the Organic Code of Criminal Procedure, there are still “dozens of people” who have been detained without trial for more than three years, well above the limits imposed both by the previous law as for the reformed.

Héctor Constant, permanent representative of Venezuela to the UN, reacted by assuring that the State does not recognize the FMM and assured that its existence is “politicized” and without “virtue”.

“It would be terrible for these types of updates to acknowledge with the truth in hand that my country has strengthened and increased its cooperation with the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, it would be terrible to acknowledge that specialists from the office offer cooperation and technical assistance to the State under a climate of harmony and respectful dialogue”, he affirmed.

“Its content endorsed by a ghost mission and prepared remotely lacks scientific and methodological rigor in the treatment of information and is clearly politicized, biased and selective,” he insisted.

Constant argued that the “large” financial resources received by the FMM should be donated to import essential goods “that criminal international coercive measures prevent us from acquiring.”

Human rights organizations, such as PROVEA, condemned the response of the Venezuelan State, considering that it expresses “the government’s little will to rectify.”

In this regard, they insist on the need to extend the Mission’s mandate in September.

In its first report published in September 2020, the FMM detailed cases of extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arrests and torture, for which it concluded that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that some of the behaviors described constitute crimes against humanity.”

In November of last year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to open a formal investigation of Venezuela for alleged crimes against humanity.

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