An International Mission commissioned by the United Nations (UN) to investigate the human rights situation in Venezuela concluded that the dictator Nicolás Maduro and his defense ministers, Vladimir Padrino López; and the Interior, Néstor Reverol, are directly involved in serious crimes committed by the country’s security forces.
The sources that collaborated with the investigation were diverse. Even officials from the Maduro regime itself. This was revealed this Wednesday Francisco Cox Vial, members of the UN Mission, in dialogue with the chain EVTV Miami.
The human rights lawyer stated that the information came from “Witness statements, information provided to us by officials of the security forces, intelligence agencies, who are no longer present, but also officials who are within the agency; also former members of the Prosecutor’s Office ”.
Asked about how these regime officials contacted the UN Mission to provide information, he commented: “We made a public call for the information to be delivered to us. There were intermediaries, people who were contacted through the website; it was in very different ways that these sources came to us ”.
All of them, for security reasons, spoke under anonymity. Cox did not even want to reveal the number of active officials who collaborated to denounce the crimes against humanity committed by Chavismo.
The report published this Wednesday offers extensive information “that shows that the State authorities -both at the presidential and ministerial levels- exercised power and supervision over the civil and military security forces, and the agencies identified as perpetrators of the violations and documented crimes.” .
“The Mission has reasonable grounds to believe that both the President and the Ministers of the Interior and Defense contributed to the commission of the crimes documented in this report.”, is noted in the conclusions of the investigation.
Faced with these evidences, Cox indicated that the UN Mission makes “a call for the judicial authorities themselves and the Public Ministry, the Venezuelan Prosecutor’s Office, to carry out the necessary investigations, and that the International Criminal Court also do so with its time, with respect to their procedures, with the evidence that they manage to collect ”.
Despite the fact that the Venezuelan Justice is also part of the repressive structure of the regime, the lawyer stressed that the duty of the Mission is to make “a first call to the national authorities” so that “the Judicial Power and the Prosecutor’s Office regain their independence.”
Likewise, he urged the international community to “activate its justice mechanisms” in light of what was stated in the report: “When we speak of national jurisdictions other than Venezuela, what we are thinking about is a principle called universal jurisdiction. There are countries, for example in Europe, that have judged the genocide in Rwanda, the massacres of the former Yugoslavia … There are countries that do not have universal jurisdictionl. Universal jurisdiction is another of the mechanisms through which responsibility for crimes against humanity becomes effective. Therefore, those countries that have those jurisdictions, we call on them to activate them, if the Venezuelan authorities and the Prosecutor’s Office do not do so ”.
Cox also acknowledged that they did not have the collaboration of the dictatorship for the collection of information: “There was an interest in ignoring us, I imagine that hindering, but also questioning our legitimacy.”
For its part, he said that the Mission obtained information indicating that Maduro has on occasions directly given orders to the director of SEBIN to follow someone in particular. “Nicolás Maduro and the ministers had information that these crimes were being committed, and they did not take repressive measures and sanctions to stop them, this also generates responsibility according to the Rome Statute.”
“There is a structure here, they are not isolated events against civil society; there is a chain of command that was maintained, there is no breaking of that chain. There is knowledge, and we have sources that have pointed out to us, that Maduro gave direct orders to the director of SEBIN to target certain people. Here is a concrete contribution, “he added.
Among the high command of the regime who also lowered orders, he appointed the Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino López, and to the Interior, Nestor Reverol.
Cox argued that this chain of command also aims to “eliminate the opposition.”: “There is a pattern of behavior. It consists of ordering the location of certain people who are beginning to gain notoriety, social activists, politicians … There is clearly an objective of eliminating the opposition. With that their leaders are persecuted, they are imprisoned, they are put in jail, even judges have issued orders. We are hopeful that some judges will come out of this structure. This leads us to conclude this policy of eliminating the opposition ”.
The Mission investigated 16 cases of police, military or joint operations that resulted in 53 extrajudicial executions. It also examined 2,552 additional incidents in which 5,094 deaths occurred by security forces, although not all were necessarily arbitrary.
Between 2015 and 2017, the People’s Liberation Operations (OLP), supposedly established to fight crime, led to arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial executions. The Mission investigated or examined 140 operations, which resulted in the deaths of 413 people, sometimes shot at point-blank range.