Crisis in Venezuela © Pedro Mattey
Electric shocks and sexual violence: UN High Commissioner Bachelet blames secret service in Venezuela for cruel abuses. During her visit to the troubled country, she also spoke with Catholic representatives.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has blamed the Maduro government in Venezuela for torture, disappearances and killings of opposition figures.
The crimes must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators held accountable, Bachelet demanded Friday before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. "Excessive and lethal force has been used repeatedly against demonstrators," the UN High Commissioner stressed.
"Torture and Reprisals
She presented a report to the 47-country UN body on human rights violations in the South American crisis country, where the regime of socialist President Nicolas Maduro clings to power. The Maduro government's deputy foreign minister, William Castillo, acknowledged "problems" in Venezuela during the debate. However, he accused the U.S. of being responsible for a "multi-layered aggression" against his country aimed at "regime change".
UN High Commissioner called on Maduro government to stop serious violations of economic, social, civil, political and cultural rights. She also demanded the release of all political prisoners. Many detainees have complained of torture and reprisals, as well as degrading and inhumane treatment, the report said.
She mentioned electric shocks, simulating suffocation with plastic bags, beatings, sexual violence, forced postures and the denial of water and food. For torture, the report blames mainly the intelligence services. State-backed armed gangs, known as colectivos, would have been involved in the process. According to the opposition, there are currently more than 700 political prisoners in Venezuela.
Talks with politicians, NGOs and church
Former Chilean President Bachelet had visited Venezuela in late June and met with President Maduro there. It also consults with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president, representatives of the Catholic Church and human rights organizations, and relatives of political prisoners. Its report was based on 558 interviews with victims and witnesses of torture and human rights abuses, it said.
The UN High Commissioner also drew attention to the more than four million Venezuelan refugees who have left their country.
If the situation does not improve, the exodus of people will continue, she said. According to its report, President Maduro has been trying to "neutralize, repress and criminalize the opposition" since 2016. In order to intimidate and oppress critics, especially citizens who had peacefully demanded their rights at demonstrations, were put in pre-trial detention.
A bitter power struggle between Maduro and the bourgeois opposition has been raging for months in Venezuela. Self-appointed interim President Guaido is now recognized as head of state by more than 50 countries, including the U.S. and Germany. On Maduro's side are countries like Cuba, Russia and Turkey. The majority of the military supports Maduro and is his biggest power factor.