By Sinikka Tarvainen, dpa
HAVANA TIMES – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Thursday urged Venezuela to halt what it described as grave violations of political, social, civil and economic rights in the country.
The report was published following the visit of UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to the South American country from June 19 to 21.
During the reporting period, which extends from January 2018 to May 2019, “civil and military forces have allegedly been responsible for arbitrary detentions; ill-treatment and torture of people critical of the government and their relatives; sexual and gender-based violence in detention and during visits; and excessive use of force during demonstrations,” Bachelet’s office said.
The office has documented 66 deaths during protests between January and May, 52 of them attributable to security forces or pro-government armed groups known as colectivos.
The OHCHR also reported more than 6,800 extra-judicial killings in the context of security operations last year and between January and May 19 this year.
Nearly 800 people remain in custody after being arbitrarily arrested, according to the report.
President Nicolas Maduro’s government has also not ensured Venezuelans’ right to food and health, the OHCHR said. It reported high levels of malnutrition and the deaths of 1,557 people between November 2018 and February 2019 due to a lack of supplies at hospitals.
Maduro won a second term in a disputed election last year and has faced attempts by the US-backed opposition to oust him amid an escalating economic crisis.
“I call on all those with the power and influence – within Venezuela and elsewhere – to work together, and to make the necessary compromises to resolve this all-consuming crisis,” Bachelet said.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry presented 70 objections to the report, accusing it of having “a selective and openly partial view on the real situation of human rights” in the country.
The report favors “sources lacking objectivity,” negative information and downplays advances in human rights, according to the statement quoted by the national news agency AVN and the broadcaster NTN24.