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Accountability Mechanism on Venezuela Key for Political Progress; Robust HRC Attention Needed to Myanmar, Kashmir, Sudan, Cambodia, Rights of Migrants

Human Rights Watch Oral Intervention under Item 2: General Debate on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Update

Thank you, Mr. President, High Commissioner,

Venezuela is facing the most profound human rights crisis at the current time in Latin America. It combines a brutal crackdown on dissent with arbitrary arrests and torture of government opponents, abusive policing practices including extrajudicial killings, and a devastating humanitarian emergency created by the Maduro regime. Due to the lack of judicial independence, impunity for systematic violations is the norm. This crisis has caused the largest exodus of exiles – more than 4 million – in recent Latin American history.  

Venezuela has dismissed the High Commissioner’s report as biased, selective and politicized. It has accepted no responsibility, and it has granted just one Special Procedure visit in 20 years. Venezuela offers no credible prospect for meaningful accountability, without which its limited engagement with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is akin to placing a band-aid on a gaping wound.

We call on the Council to create a commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Venezuela and identify those responsible. Venezuelans have suffered enough. There cannot be sustainable political progress without accountability for past and ongoing abuses.

We welcome the statement of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, and hope that the same OIC-EU collaboration that led to its establishment will be maintained this session. We encourage the mechanism within its mandate to keep the Human Rights Council informed of patterns of violations, command structures and avenues to accountability, while also urging the Council to ensure adequate resources are allocated to the OHCHR and the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar for regular public reporting on the broader rights situation in the country.

We share the High Commissioner’s concerns at communications restrictions and rights violations in Kashmir, and believe that the recommendations in her independent reports provide a viable framework for Council action. India should stop dismissing grave international human rights concerns as an “internal” or “bilateral” issue.  Pakistan should be consistent in applying the same concerns it brings to violations in Kashmir to mass violations against Uyghurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.

We share the High Commissioner’s concerns about Cambodia, where political opposition, rights defenders, and journalists continue to be targeted by authorities. The Council should urgently mandate monitoring and reporting by the High Commissioner.

In Sudan, the Council should support systemic rights reforms by providing a credible response to violations against peaceful protesters since December and putting in place monitoring and reporting by the High Commissioner. 

The High Commissioner has rightly highlighted the “lethal disregard” that certain EU member states have displayed for the lives of migrants at sea, and the impact of the callous separation by the United States of migrant children from their families. It is past time for the Human Rights Council to hold states accountable for these abuses.

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