Human Rights Council
24 June–12 July 2019
Agenda item 2
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
Submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 39/1, the present report provides an overview of the human rights situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela from January 2018 to May 2019.
In its resolution 39/1, the Human Rights Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to “prepare a comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” (Venezuela) to be presented at its forty-first session.
The present report focuses on the situation of human rights in Venezuela since 2018, while also analysing pertinent developments that took place beforehand. It highlights patterns of violations directly and indirectly affecting all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural. The report includes a gender-based approach, highlighting the specific experiences of women and girls.
The report is based on information collected and analysed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), including through missions. From 11 to 22 March 2019, OHCHR visited Venezuela where it met with a wide range of state and other stakeholders in Caracas, Barquisimeto, Valencia and Ciudad Guayana. Additionally, between September 2018 and April 2019, OHCHR conducted nine visits to interview Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Spain. OHCHR is grateful to the respective Governments for facilitating these visits.
The High Commissioner visited Venezuela from 19 to 21 June 2019. She met with many stakeholders, including President Nicolás Maduro, the Vice-president, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, high-level officials from 17 ministries, the President of the National Assembly, and opposition parliamentarians. She also met with the President of the National Constituent Assembly, the Attorney-General, the President of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Ombudsperson. She held meetings with representatives of the Catholic Church, the business sector, universities, students, trade unions, and human rights organizations, approximately 200 victims, the diplomatic community and the United Nations Country Team.
In addition to accepting an OHCHR presence, the Government made several commitments and identified areas of cooperation. OHCHR will support the assessment of the main obstacles concerning access to justice and of the National Commission for the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment. The Government has also agreed that OHCHR will be granted full access to detention centres to monitor conditions of detention and speak to detainees. The Government will adopt a calendar of ten visits of Special Procedures in the next two years. In six months, OHCHR and the Government will evaluate the possibility of enhancing OHCHR’s presence and establishing a country office.
OHCHR conducted 558 interviews with victims and witnesses of human rights violations, and other sources, including lawyers, health and media professionals, human rights defenders, and ex-military and security officers. It also held 159 meetings with a broad range of state and other stakeholders. As per its methodology, OHCHR sought informed consent from the sources it interviewed before using any information they provided, ensuring confidentiality when appropriate. It took all appropriate measures to protect the identity of its sources and notes that many expressed fear of reprisals.
The report also reflects the analysis of numerous documents, which OHCHR gathered and examined, including official Government documents, open source reports, legislation and legal documents, medical and forensic reports, media (including social media), videos, and photographs. Wherever possible, OHCHR refers to official information and data, but notes access to such material is limited as official publications, including statistics, have been scarce and completely lacking in some areas, since at least 2015.
In line with its methodology on human rights monitoring, OHCHR exercised due diligence to assess the credibility and reliability of all sources and crosschecked the information gathered to confirm its validity. OHCHR was able to gather, analyse, and verify a substantial body of information that provide reasonable grounds to believe patterns described in the report constitute human rights violations.
OHCHR assessed the information it collected in light of international human rights law as applicable to Venezuela and pertinent domestic legislation. Additionally, OHCHR considered relevant standard-setting instruments recognized as complementary to international norms.