‘Worst human rights crisis’ in Venezuela’s history

The Venezuelan government is responsible for the "worst human rights crisis in its history," intentionally using lethal force against the most vulnerable in society, Amnesty International said Sept. 20, as it published its latest research into violence and systematic abuses in the country. The report, This is no way to live: Public security and the right to life in Venezuela, shows how the Venezuelan government is failing to protect its people amid alarming levels of insecurity in the country, instead implementing repressive and deadly measures.

Amnesty's study is based the latest data concerning rights abuses in the country, including:

  • 8,292 extrajudicial executions took place in the last two years between 2015 and 2017.
  • 4,667 (22%) of the homicides in 2016 were at the hands of security officials.
  • Last year, 95% of murder victims were men, 60% between 12 and 29 years old.
  • 87% of people live in poverty.
  • There has been a 65% increase in maternal mortality.
  • There has been a 30% increase in infant mortality.

Amnesty's report charges that, despite the implementation of at least 17 security plans in the past 17 years, the government has failed to prevent armed violence and investigate other human rights violations in the country. Instead, Venezuelan authorities have publicly stated that killing people in the context of security operations is a successful practice. 

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International's Americas director, said: "Venezuela is going through one of the worst human rights crises in its history. The list of crimes under international law against the population is growing. It is alarming that, instead of applying efficient public policies to protect people and reduce levels of insecurity, the Venezuelan authorities are using the language of war to try to legitimise the use of excessive force by police and military officials and, in many cases, the use of lethal force with intent to kill." (Amnesty International)

Photo: WikiMedia Commons

  1. Venezuela’s biggest daily closes

    Venezuela's biggest independent daily, El Nacional, printed its last edition on Dec. 14, its editor and owner Miguel Henrique Otero announced. In an interview published in the paper, Otero, who manages the paper from self-imposed exile in Madrid, said that El Nacional would be available online only because of restrictions that the government imposed on access to newsprint. El Nacional, which was founded in 1943, covers politics and has reported critically on President Nicolás Maduro's government. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented how over 20 Venezuelan publications have been forced out of print due to government restrictions on newsprint. (CPJ)

  2. Venezuela Supreme Court justice flees to US

    Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Christian Zerpa has fled to the US to protest President Nicolás Maduro, according to reports. Zerpa had been a supporter of Maduro until his recent escape to the US. Zerpa was responsible for writing a key 2016 decision that allowed Maduro to strip the Venezuelan congress of its powers. He now says that last year's re-election of Maduro was not "free and competitive" and that the Supreme Court is "an appendage of the Executive Branch." Zerpa claims to have withheld criticism until now to ensure his and his family’s safe escape from the country.

    The Venezuelan Supreme Court released a statement in response to Zerpa's flight, alleging that it was actually a flight from allegations of misconduct. The Supreme Court admits to having started an internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Zerpa against a number of women who worked in his office, many of whom resigned or transferred out of the office due to his behavior. The statement goes on to say that Zerpa was due to be dismissed and states that the Supreme Court will not be tainted by someone of such criminal conduct.

    Maduro was re-elected to a second term in May 2018. The election was widely criticized with the opposition boycotting the vote and a number of countries—including the US, Canada, the EU and a dozen Latin American nations—announcing they would not recognize the results  even before the votes had been taken. The government additionally barred a number of parties from running. (Jurist)