Human Rights Council Member Venezuela Using Sexual Violence to Silence Dissidents

The United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission into the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (FFMV) on Tuesday released a report detailing how Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime – which currently has a seat on the UN Human Rights Council – was using its intelligence services and his Military has deployed agencies to carry out crimes against humanity.

The new report — the Independent Fact-Finding Mission’s third publication since its inception in 2019 — describes how Maduro, along with other senior regime officials, orchestrated and implemented plans to quell opposition to her rule, including the use of extreme torture and sexual violence, and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

The United Nations has a long track record of acknowledging human rights atrocities and other crimes committed by member states and then doing nothing, including failing to revoke privileges such as seats in select organizations like the Human Rights Council. UN experts had already accused Maduro of crimes against humanity when he allowed the Maduro regime to serve on the council last year.

Maduro retains that seat, despite not having been Venezuela’s legitimate president since 2019, when the country’s National Assembly used its constitutional powers to swear in legitimate – but powerless – President Juan Guaidó.

The latest report, released on the first day of the UN General Assembly’s high-level debate, did not change the Maduro regime’s status in the organization. Venezuela still entertains his position on the Human Rights Council for the 2020-2022 term. A delegation from the Maduro regime is to attend the General Assembly on behalf of Guaidó’s representatives.

Since the Maduro regime never allowed the fact-finding mission to enter Venezuela, it based its findings and allegations on the confidential reports of 246 interviews with victims, their families and former members of Maduro’s security and intelligence services.

The report focuses on the actions of two components of Maduro’s intelligence apparatus: the Bolivarian National Intelligence Agency (SEBIN) — which, according to the report, “aimes to identify political dissidents and human rights activists, as well as other men and women perceived as opposed to the government;” and the Directorate-General for Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), which “targets military personnel and associated civilians suspected of involvement in rebellion or attempted coups”.

in one Press Released on September 20, Marta Valiñas, chair of the fact-finding mission, stated: “Our investigation and analysis show that the Venezuelan state relies on the intelligence services and their agents to quell dissent in the country.”

“Serious crimes and human rights violations are committed, including torture and sexual violence,” Valiñas said. “These practices must stop immediately and those responsible must be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with the law.”

The fact-finding mission found that the Maduro regime’s DGCIM and SEBIN have been using sexual and gender-based violence on a large scale to torture and humiliate citizens since at least 2014.

Cases were also found of brief disappearances of detainees, and cases of citizens being beaten with blunt and sharp objects, tortured with electric shocks, stress positions, suffocation, cuts, mutilations, death threats, and force-feeding feces and vomit.

“The intelligence services also subjected the dissidents, both men and women, to sexual violence, including rape with body parts or objects and threats of rape against the detainee or their relatives, forced nudity, and beatings and electric shocks to genitals. These acts of sexual violence also constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” said Francisco Cox, one of the members of the mission.

The report concluded by stating that Maduro’s human rights crimes remain “serious”.

“The country has endured a decade of deepening humanitarian, social, economic and human rights crises coupled with a collapse in state institutions, all of which have been exacerbated by the impact of [Chinese coronavirus]”, says the report. “Strong proof of this is the more than six million people who have been forced to leave the country.”

The fact-finding mission recommended to the international community that “States should consider taking legal action against individuals responsible for the violations and crimes identified in this report, consistent with their respective national legislation.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council is planned to discuss the results of the independent fact-finding mission on September 26 as part of the agenda for its 51st session.

While Maduro is not personally attending the General Assembly this week, a representative of his regime is expected to speak on the prestigious platform.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer, documenting life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here. Human Rights Council Member Venezuela Using Sexual Violence to Silence Dissidents

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