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Venezuela: Concerns Around Upcoming Elections and Lack of Accountability

HRW oral statement - ID on High Commissioner report on Venezuela - HRC53

Pedro Enrique Calzadilla, president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), center, announces the resignation of the council's five board members at the CNE in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, June 15, 2023. © 2023 AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

Mr. President,

We thank the High Commissioner for his report, and share his concerns over the human rights situation in Venezuela. Venezuelans continue to suffer repression, with more than 280 political prisoners behind bars, according to Foro Penal, as well as a humanitarian emergency. 7.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country, generating one of the largest migration crises in the world.

We welcome the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) pre-trial chamber’s decision to authorize the resumption of the investigation into crimes against humanity in Venezuela.

We encourage the High Commissioner to actively support accountability efforts, including by coordinating with the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC and advocating for this Council’s Fact-Finding Mission to visit Venezuela to investigate extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and torture.

We are alarmed that the National Assembly is carrying out a government-controlled process to appoint new members to the National Electoral Council. We are also concerned by the Controller General’s decision to bar opposition candidate María Corina Machado. These moves raise further doubts over the prospect of free and fair presidential elections in 2024 and legislative and regional elections in 2025. 

The High Commissioner and Member States should urge the Maduro administration to ensure a balanced composition of the National Electoral Council and to guarantee that opposition leaders are not arbitrarily barred from office.

We are also concerned about delays in establishing a United Nations-administered humanitarian fund, agreed in November during negotiations between the Maduro government and the opposition. The fund could help provide relief to the over 19 million Venezuelans with humanitarian needs. We urge all actors involved, including the Maduro government, the opposition, the UN, and the United States government, to act swiftly and transparently to ensure aid for Venezuelans.

High Commissioner, what is your Office doing to promote and protect Venezuelans’ right to participate in free and fair elections, and what more could UN member states do?

Thank you.

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