On March 17 and 18, oral updates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela (FFM) will provide an opportunity for UN Human Rights Council (HRC) member states to shed light on the three ongoing human rights crises in Venezuela; the crackdown on dissent, the humanitarian emergency, and the migration crisis.
During the dialogue, countries should highlight:
- Venezuela’s brutal crackdown on dissent continues, with security forces and armed pro-government groups committing egregious abuses, including extrajudicial killings, short-term enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and torture. These abuses, which are committed with impunity, have been documented by the FFM and are currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Office. Efforts to reform the justice system have failed to address structural deficiencies that lead to the country’s lack of judicial independence.
- The humanitarian emergency has left millions without basic health care and adequate nutrition. It also left the country ill-prepared to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has added a new level of urgency to the humanitarian crises. One out of three Venezuelans are food insecure. Shortages of medications and supplies, interruptions of utilities at healthcare centers, and the emigration of healthcare workers have all hurt operational capacity.
- The massive exodus of Venezuelans has generated the largest migration crisis in Latin America, with more than 6 million people having fled the country. In some countries, Venezuelans have been arbitrarily expelled or face xenophobia and difficulties in obtaining health care, education, or refugee or legal status that would allow them to work.
Member states should scale up pressure on Venezuelan authorities to abandon their systematic campaign targeting independent journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society organizations. Venezuela should also end arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings, release all political prisoners, and effectively investigate allegations of human rights violations. Member states should also call for Venezuela to ensure free and fair elections, and to implement recommendations issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the FFM.
At a time when much of the world’s attention is focused on the war in Ukraine, the upcoming discussion at the HRC is a chance to remind Venezuelan authorities that the international community will not tolerate the abuses for which the Nicolás Maduro government is responsible.