Was crimes against humanity in Venezuela means, describes once again a report by a commission commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council. It talks about methods of torture, about prisoners being beaten with batons, inflicted pain with electric shocks and having plastic bags pulled over their heads to suffocate them.
“Our investigations have shown that the Venezuelan state relies on the secret services and their agents to suppress dissent. Serious crimes and human rights abuses are committed, including torture and sexual violence," Marta Valiñas, head of the Venezuela investigative commission, said on Tuesday. "These practices must stop immediately and those responsible must be prosecuted."
It is the third report that the investigative commission has presented. Allegations of torture had already been raised in the recent past. According to the authors, 246 people were interviewed for the current report, including 140 men and 106 women, some directly, some by telephone or video link. Venezuela itself did not allow the reconnaissance group into the country.
Hidden prisons across the country
The investigation commission shows how Venezuela's government uses the secret services DGCIM and SEBIN to stay in power. The director of the DGCIM, for example, is the president, the socialist ruler Nicolas Maduro, directly subordinate. Former prisoners at the Secret Service's main location testify about the situation they were in there. They speak of prison cells that hardly get any natural light, and that they had to defecate in bags and plastic bottles and sometimes eat off the floor. According to witnesses, the head of the DGCIM intelligence service also received orders directly from the ruler Maduro, but there is no written evidence of this.
According to former employees, the DGCIM also worked with Cuban agents. The agency also ran hidden prisons across Venezuela, where prisoners were taken for questioning and torture.
The secret service SEBIN should also torture applied, former employees report that some cases were ordered directly by Maduro. The former director, Christopher Figuera (2018-2019), reports that he was in constant contact with the vice president, but that the most important orders came from Maduro.
Internationally, Venezuela's ruler is largely isolated after he took action against opposition politicians and had the National Assembly ousted a few years ago. 6.8 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015, more than the number of Syrian refugees. Recently, however, there has been a rapprochement from neighboring Colombia, on the initiative of the newly elected left-wing President Gustavo Petro. Around 2.5 million Venezuelan migrants live in Colombia alone.