April 22, 2024

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The UN High Commissioner calls for an end to torture and arbitrary detention in Venezuela

The UN High Commissioner calls for an end to torture and arbitrary detention in Venezuela

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, today concluded a two-day visit to Caracas, during which he met with President Nicolás Maduro, citizen representatives, legislative and judicial authorities, as well as delegates from 125 NGOs. Organizations and spokespersons for the Unified Opposition Platform and human rights activists.

In his statement to the media, Türk said he had heard testimonies from victims respression and their relatives. “I have heard stories of people being arbitrarily detained and tortured (…) I heard a woman who was emotional when she told how years ago her sister was arrested, raped and tortured.”

The High Commissioner stated that he had raised these issues with the Venezuelan authorities. “I was promised to deal with torture complaints, punish them and prosecute those responsible,” Türk revealed.

“I have asked for the release of all those arbitrarily detained, and I am confident that we will soon have unfettered access to all detention centers in the country,” the High Commissioner said, and stated that they had reached an agreement with the government to extend the operation of its office in Venezuela for another two years.

“I am glad to see that, after my meeting with President Nicolás Maduro, (he) publicly expressed his willingness to work to improve the justice system. This is the key to reform, and I offer the support of my office’s experience to carry it out.”

Türk stressed that during their meetings, he was able to verify the “fragmented and divided” state of Venezuelan society, as well as the “rupture of trust in interest groups.” However, he stressed that he had found groups interested in “building bridges” in civil society.

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So far, neither Maduro nor his government has commented on these words. Not surprisingly, yesterday, after meeting with Türk, the president wrote on his Twitter account: “We will always have the will for peace so that our homeland prevails, so we are pleased with the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk.”

Hours before ending his official visit to Venezuela, human rights organizations submitted a report to Türk that recorded 14,220 alleged extrajudicial executions committed in the past ten years.

This is the second time that the High Commissioner for Human Rights has traveled to Caracas. This has been done before by Michelle Bachelet in 2019, who also called for the release of about 250 Venezuelans considered political prisoners.

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