Human Rights Watch is very concerned about the human rights situation in Venezuela. The violence in the wake of student and opposition demonstrations that began on February 12th in Venezuela has left a toll of more than 20 people dead, dozens injured, hundreds arrested and serious allegations of brutality, torture, and abuse committed by security forces. The government has also tolerated and collaborated with pro-government armed groups of civilians.

The Attorney General's Office, reluctantly –and thanks to videos and pressure by the public opinion–, has taken some steps to investigate those responsible for these incidents. However, taking advantage of the lack of judicial independence in the country, efforts to attribute criminal responsibility for the violence to the political opposition have advanced at remarkable speed. Leopoldo López, one of the most prominent leaders of the Venezuelan political opposition, is detained in a military prison waiting for a provisional judge (with no security of tenure) to decide whether he will be put on trial, even though authorities have yet to present credible evidence against him.

The international reaction, with a few notable exceptions, has been disappointing. Human Rights Watch respectfully urges States in this meeting to ask the government of Nicolás Maduro to uphold its international legal obligations to respect human rights, and, specifically, to end abuses against demonstrators and ensure the release and respect for due process guarantees of those who were arbitrarily detained.