High Commissioner for Human Rights calls for an end to

High Commissioner for Human Rights calls for an end to torture and freedom for those arbitrarily detained in Venezuela

First change: 01/28/2023 – 20:58 Last change: 01/28/2023 – 20:56

Caracas (AFP) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, on Saturday called on the Venezuelan authorities after a two-day visit to the country to release all those arbitrarily detained and to take measures to end torture.

“I have asked that all those arbitrarily detained be released,” Türk said in English from Maiquetía International Airport, which serves Caracas, minutes before leaving the country.

The High Commissioner arrived in Venezuela on Thursday to hold meetings with the authorities of President Nicolás Maduro’s government and civil society groups at the government’s invitation.

“I have been promised that complaints of torture will be dealt with (…), that they will be investigated and those responsible will be prosecuted. I encouraged the authorities to take decisive action to end the torture once and for all,” he said afterwards, mentioning that he had heard stories from some of the victims.

NGOs and civil society groups have repeatedly denounced “systematic human rights abuses” in Venezuela, particularly by state security forces. Türk mentioned that “extrajudicial” executions are still being carried out and that “people are traumatized”.

However, he stressed that the government is ready to continue working on “improving the judicial system” and welcomed Maduro’s public willingness to do so.

“I am confident that we will soon have full access to all detention centers in the country,” he said.

The UN High Commissioner has been working in Venezuela since 2019, representing a commission set up by Michelle Bachelet, Türk’s predecessor, to monitor the human rights situation and provide assistance following a spate of complaints from victims.

Before leaving office, Bachelet said she saw progress on human rights but there was “more work to be done”.

Türk pointed out that his office will continue to work in the country for two more years and provide technical assistance.

The High Commissioner also urged the authorities to consider the “importance of ensuring civil space” under the recent proposed law designed to regulate the activities of NGOs.

“I have been able to share our observations and concerns (…) and have asked for a full consultation process to be put in place on the law,” he said.