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UN human rights experts ask to visit Venezuela to check in situ allegations of abuses

Thursday, March 6th 2014 - 20:57 UTC
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Prosecutor Luisa Ortega said human rights violations by security forces would 'not be tolerated' and has eight suspects under investigation Prosecutor Luisa Ortega said human rights violations by security forces would 'not be tolerated' and has eight suspects under investigation

A group of UN-appointed human rights experts has asked Venezuela for “prompt clarification” of allegations of abuse against anti-government protesters. The six independent experts said that they were “deeply disturbed” by allegations of cases of arbitrary detention of protesters.

 They also asked for urgent clarification on reports that some detainees had been beaten and tortured. At least 19 people have been killed since the protests started a month ago.

The six experts - Frank La Rue, Maina Kiai, Mads Andenas, Juan Mendez, Christof Heyns and Margaret Sekaggya - are charged by the UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva to monitor, report and advise on human rights issues.

In a statement they said they were worried by “reports of the arbitrary detention of various journalists and the suspension of the broadcasting activities of TV channel NTN24”. They added that “the country needs more, not less information on the ongoing protests”.

The protests started at the beginning of February in the city of San Cristobal, in western Tachira state. Students marched to demand increased security after a student alleged she had been the victim of an attempted rape. Some of the protests turned violent, and after the arrest of a number of students, the protests spread to the capital Caracas.

Protesters allege the security forces are using excessive force in their attempts to disperse them. Opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado called on their supporters to join the student rallies.

Tens of thousands marched through Caracas protesting against Venezuela's record inflation, shortages of some food staples, and one of the region's highest murder rates. But while many of the protests started peacefully, some ended in violence when a hard core of often masked protesters clashed with the security forces.

Eight members of the security forces are being investigated for their alleged involvement in the fatal shooting of two men - one anti-government protester and one pro-government activist - following a march on 12 February.

Venezuela's Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega said human rights violations by the security forces would “not be tolerated” and insisted “we're going to go after those who have used excessive force during the protests,” she said.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has accused the security forces of beating, sexually harassing and torturing detained protesters.

President Maduro initially denied the allegations, but Ms Ortega has since announced that an investigation is under way. Maduro alleges the protests are an attempt to oust him out of office a “soft hand coup”.

The UN-appointed experts said that they were ready to visit the country and engage in a constructive dialogue with all parties.

Categories: Politics, Venezuela.

Top Comments

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  • Jack Bauer

    Don't think these UN human rights 'experts' are going to get much response from Maduro, other than lies. You can be sure that if the information coming from VZ talks about 19 people being killed, the real number is quite a bit higher. Would think that the videos coming out of VZ speak for themselves.

    Mar 07th, 2014 - 06:10 pm 0
  • Briton

    You might as well send them to Argentina or Cuba for all the good it will do..

    Mar 07th, 2014 - 08:20 pm 0
  • ilsen

    Maduro the Mad will block this. You can be sure. After all he has cut diplomatic relations with Panama because they called a meeting of OAS to discuss providing mediation and dialogue.
    UN experts poking about? Not a chance! He will claim as another part of the “neo-fascist plot”.

    PS: Panama currently owes Venezuela billions for Crude. Didn't really think that one through, did you Mr. Maduro?

    Mar 08th, 2014 - 01:40 am 0
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