UN finds '˜systematic' violations against Venezuela protesters

The UN human rights office says it has found 'widespread and systematic use' of excessive force and arbitrary detention against demonstrators and detainees in Venezuela.

Venezuelans protest against President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas. Picture: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelans protest against President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas. Picture: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

It also detected other
human rights violations, including “violent house raids, torture and ill-
treatment”.

Spokeswoman Ravina
Shamdasani said preliminary findings suggest there are “no signs” that the 
situation is improving.

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The team found security forces were allegedly responsible for at least 46 deaths, and pro-government armed groups were allegedly responsible for 27 among 124 deaths being investigated in connection with demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

It said it was unclear who the perpetrators of the 
other deaths were. The rights office said 
violations included “house raids, torture and ill-
treatment of those detained 
in connection with the 
protests”.

A full report on the team’s findings is expected this month.

The report came as foreign ministers from 14 nations meet in Peru in hopes of finding consensus on a regional response to Venezuela’s crisis, while Mr Maduro’s all-powerful constitutional
assembly forges ahead on promises to punish the 
embattled leader’s foes.

The assembly is expected to gather at the legislative 
palace in Caracas for the first time since voting on Saturday to remove the nation’s out-
spoken chief prosecutor, a move that was condemned by many of the regional governments that are sending representatives to the meeting in Peru’s capital, Lima.

Peru’s president has been vocal in rejecting the new assembly but the region has found that agreeing on collective actions has proved tricky.

Venezuela is facing mounting pressure and threats of deepening sanctions from trade partners, including a recent suspension from South America’s Mercosur.

Despite growing criticism, Mr Maduro has remained firm in pressing the constitutional assembly forward in 
executing his priorities.

The new assembly has 
signalled it will act swiftly in following his commands, 
voting to replace the chief prosecutor with a government loyalist and to create a “truth commission” that will wield unusual powers to prosecute and levy sentences.

Opposition leaders vowed to remain in their posts in their only government foothold – the country’s single-chamber
congress, the National 
Assembly.