We share the High Commissioner’s concerns raised during his visit to Venezuela in January over conditions of detention, the extensive use of pre-trial detention, and the economic and social challenges that have contributed to more than seven million people being in need for humanitarian assistance, among others.
His statements are a powerful reminder that, despite the perception by many that the situation is “normalizing,” in part due to the dollarization of the economy and the Maduro government’s engagement with the international community, the in-country conditions are far from “normal” from a human rights perspective.
The Commissioner also mentioned he had shared with authorities concerns over a bill that would give broad powers to the executive to control, register and sanction NGO, including by dissolving organizations. We urge him to deliver an unambiguous message that efforts to undermine civic space are unacceptable and the bill should be withdrawn.
Additionally, we urge the High Commissioner to support accountability efforts abroad, including by advocating for the Fact-Finding Mission to visit Venezuela to investigate extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and torture. He should also push for the release of all political prisoners, including Javier Tarazona, a human rights defender who has been arbitrarily detained since July 2021 and whose health is deteriorating. In his engagement with authorities, the High Commissioner should push the authorities to allow independent electoral oversight of elections to protect the Venezuelan people’s right to vote freely.
The interactions between the High Commissioner and Venezuelan authorities should be guided by maximum transparency. In that spirit, it is key to make the content of the memorandum of understanding signed in January public. Failure to do so risks generating uncertainty that could compromise the effectiveness of OHCHR team’s work in Venezuela.