On July 15, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet presented a second detailed report on Venezuela. This one details a justice system that has been undermined, generating impunity and human rights violations; and urges the government to get a handle on illegal mining in the Orinoco region.
The report makes 21 recommendations that could help the system to gain independence and impartiality, and urges Venezuela to investigate deaths that occurred during protests in the country in recent years.
It also says criminal gangs control the mining process in the Orinoco region and routinely victimize miners. It suggests Venezuelan security and military forces have participated in some of these cases. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urges the Maduro government to regularize mining activities and comply with the international standards.
A report earlier this month focused on violence perpetrated by Venezuelan security forces, asserting that at least 1,324 had been killed in the first five months of 2020. The two reports were requested by the U.N. Human Rights Council in September (see Article 11) and October (see Article 22) of last year.
In its annual report Venezuelan human rights group PROVEA suggests that the OHCHR visit to Caracas and subsequent reports have marked a turning point in human rights advocacy in the country. However, PROVEA points out that the Venezuelan State has not complied with almost any of the 23 recommendations of the report.
Members of the Guaidó-led opposition coalition suggest Bachelet needs to take these human rights violations to the International Criminal Court.
Freedom of Expression
- Venezuelan security forces have arrested Nicmer Evans, a highly critical dissident Chavista and director of the digital news portal Punto de Corte. He is accused of “instigating hate” presumably for tweeting about Maduro government officials who have COVID-19
- Guaidó rejected the arrest of Evans and stated that this is an act of cowardice.
- Dozens of civil society organizations have signed a statement that demands the immediate release of Nicmer Evans and all the political prisoners in Venezuela.
- Two prominent figures of Chavismo have tested positive for COVID-19, including President of the National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello and Tareck El Aissami, Minister of Oil
- According to Minister of Defense, many members of the Armed Forces have been infected with the virus in recent days.
- The Maduro government continues blaming Venezuelan migrants for the outbreak. Nicolás Maduro has even referred to those who return through informal paths and might be infected as “bioterrorists.” The National Armed Forces created an email account (email@example.com) where citizens can anonymously denounce those who enter the country illegally.
- Venezuela now has 10,010 cases and 96 deaths.
- Cape Verde has approved the extradition to the United States of Colombian businessman Alex Saab who faces accusations of money laundering in the U.S. Saab is a businessman linked to President Maduro according to the Venezuela investigative press. Saab still can appeal the decision.
- The decision of the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon to be part of Saab’s legal team has generated significant criticism.
- The Regional Coordination Platform for Refugees and migrants from Venezuela together with national and local authorities and the Pan American Health Organization published a new document that updates the Regional Response Plan for Refugees and Migrants launched in November 2019.
- In June Venezuela’s oil production felt to its lowest level in nearly eight decades: 393,000 barrels per day.
- Venezuela now refines around 60.000 barrels per day of gasoline, a significant increase that eases the country’s fuel shortages.
- The opposition-controlled National Assembly announced that inflation for June in Venezuela was 19.5% and the yearly inflation rate is now 3,524%. While inflation rates have significantly slowed, the dollarization of Venezuela’s economy means this is a massive increase in the cost of living.