The United Nations announced this Tuesday (20) that Venezuela’s intelligence agencies, both civilian and military, function as well-coordinated and effective structures. for the execution of a plan, orchestrated by the highest levels of government, to suppress the opposition, committing crimes against humanity.
In the report, the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (MIIV), details the roles and contributions of various individuals at different levels of these agencies’ chains of command and urges the authorities to investigate them.
Repression of opponents by through state intelligence agencies
In previous reports, the Mission had highlighted the role of the two state military and civil intelligence services – the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) and the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), respectively – in the commission of human rights violations since 2016.
The UN has determined that some of these violations constitute crimes against humanity. This report offers a more detailed analysis of the role played by people at different levels of both organizations’ chains of command in carrying out a plan orchestrated by dictator Nicolás Maduro and other high-level officials to repress opposition to the government, including committing torture. extremely serious.
The Mission documented 122 cases of victims who were subjected to torture, sexual violence and/or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment perpetrated by DGCIM agents, at the “Boleíta” headquarters in Caracas and in a network of clandestine detention centers across the country.
SEBIN tortured or mistreated detainees – including opposition politicians, journalists, protesters and human rights defenders – mainly in the “El Helicoide” detention center in Caracas. The Mission has investigated 51 cases that have occurred since 2016. The report details how orders were given by higher authorities to lower level officials.
Both SEBIN and DGCIM used sexual and gender-based violence to torture and humiliate their detainees. The Venezuelan authorities did not investigate or prosecute those responsible or compensate the victims.
The violations and crimes continue to this day. The same structures, standards and practices are maintained. Several of the officials investigated by the Mission continue to work for these agencies and, in some cases, have been promoted.
The UN analysis finally details how this machine was set in motion by the dictator Maduro and other high-level officials such as part of a deliberate government plan to quell criticism and opposition. “Crimes against humanity, committed through state intelligence agencies, orchestrated by people at the highest levels of authority, took place in a climate of near-total impunity. The international community must do everything possible to ensure that the rights of victims to justice and reparation are guaranteed”, said Francisco Cox, member of the MIIV mission.
Violations and abuses of human rights in the mining region
of the national oil industry crisis, in 2016, the Venezuelan dictatorship established the Arco Mineiro do Orinoco as a “National Strategic Development Zone” to formalize and expand its control over the extraction of gold and other resources
Since then, the area has been heavily militarized, while criminal armed groups continue to operate openly, controlling mines and cities. The MIIV report documents how state and non-state actors have committed human rights violations against the local population as part of the struggle for control of mining areas.
This includes arbitrary deprivation of life, disappearances , extortion, corporal punishment, and sexual and gender-based violence. Not only have the authorities not taken steps to prevent or repress these abuses, but the Mission has received information suggesting collusion between state and non-state actors in parts of Bolívar state.
In the southern municipality of Gran Sabana of the state, the Mission documented in depth several cases in which state forces attacked indigenous populations, committing a series of violations. Among them, the clashes that took place in 2019 after the opposition tried to transfer humanitarian aid from Brazil to Gran Sabana, when state forces committed torture and arbitrary deprivation of life against indigenous people.
“The situation in the state of Bolívar and other mining areas is deeply worrying. Local populations, including indigenous peoples, are locked in a fierce battle between state actors and criminal armed groups for control of gold. Our report highlights the need to continue investigating this region which, paradoxically, is an almost forgotten area of the country, but, at the same time, generates licit and illicit wealth of minerals in immense quantities”, said Patricia Tappatá Valdez, a member of the Mission.