A United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela report released in September concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity – including the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, torture, enforced disappearances, and rape and other forms of sexual violence – were committed in Venezuela.
Even more disturbing, the UN report says it has “reasonable grounds to believe that both the president and the ministers of people’s power for interior relations, justice and peace, and for defense, ordered or contributed to the commission of these crimes documented in this report.” In other words, these egregious human rights abuses start at the top.
The UN Human Rights Council created the Fact-Finding Mission in September 2019. Its mandate was to investigate extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment since 2014, laying the groundwork to ultimately hold those responsible to account.
The findings in the UN report serve to underscore the need for a free and fair transition to democracy in Venezuela. It is the only way to end the suffering of millions of Venezuelans at the hands of the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro and to deliver justice to the victims of the regime’s horrific abuses. “The United States is on the side of the Venezuelan people, who deserve to live without fear of violence from those who should protect and serve them,” said Acting USAID Administrator John Barsa in a statement.
Interim President Juan Guaido and his Interim Government, members of the democratically elected National Assembly, Venezuelan civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and independent media all play a crucial role in keeping the fight for democracy alive in Venezuela. “They are true heroes,” said Acting Administrator Barsa, “and I am confident that they will prevail.”
The international community must unite in calling for free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and the restoration of democratic governance in Venezuela. The United States looks forward to the day when it can celebrate the return of freedom to and respect for human rights in Venezuela.