The United Nations released a report on 22 June that documented severe human rights abuses in Venezuela between 2014 and 2017. According to the report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), government sanctioned “crime fighting” units extrajudicially killed over 500 Venezuelans in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. That number includes 24 children. OHCHR’s press release refers to the conduct as “shocking.”
The new report was the product of 150 interviews with witnesses, victims, and related groups like civil society organizations (CSOs) or attorneys. From these interviews, the OHCHR discerned a trend of “raids in poor neighborhoods conducted to arrest ‘criminals’ without a judicial warrant; the killing of young men who fit the profile, in some cases in their homes; and finally security forces tampering with the scene so that the killings would appear to have occurred in an exchange of fire.”
The Venezuelan government denied the OHCHR access to records. According to the BBC, some of the information included in the report comes from ousted Venezuelan attorney general Luis Ortega, who has been in exile.
A security group called Operations for the Humanitarian Liberation of the People replaced the OLP in January 2017, but the OHCHR spoke to CSOs on the ground who believe that the killings and cover-ups have not stopped.
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