UN High Commissioner calls for an end to torture and

UN High Commissioner calls for an end to torture and arbitrary arrests in Venezuela

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk today ended a two-day visit to Caracas during which he met President Nicolás Maduro, representatives of citizens, the legislature and the judiciary, and delegates from 125 non-governmental organizations, spokespersons for the opposition Unitary Platform and human rights activists.

In his statement to the media, Türk said he heard the testimonies of victims repression and their relatives. “I have heard stories of people who have been arbitrarily arrested and tortured (…) I heard a woman grip with emotion as she recounted how her sister had been arrested, raped and tortured years ago.”

The High Commissioner said he had raised these issues with the Venezuelan authorities. “I was promised that the torture reports would be processed and punished and that those responsible would be prosecuted,” revealed Türk.

“I have asked that all those arbitrarily detained be released,” the High Commissioner said. “I am confident that we will soon have full access to all detention centers in the country,” he added, reporting that discussions with the UN government has agreed to extend the work of its office in Venezuela by two more years.

“I’m pleased to see that after my meeting with President Nicolás Maduro, (he) has publicly expressed his willingness to work to improve the justice system. This is a key to reform and I offer the support of my office’s experience to carry it out.”

Türk emphasized that in addition to the “breach of trust in interest groups” he could also verify the “fragmented and divided” state of Venezuelan society at their meetings. However, he stressed that he had found groups in civil society interested in “building bridges”.

So far, neither Maduro nor his cabinet have commented on these words. Unsurprisingly, after his meeting with Türk yesterday, the President wrote on his Twitter account: “We will always have the will for peace to prevail in our homeland, so we welcome the visit of the High Commissioner of the United Nations Organization for human rights, Volker Türk”.

Hours before the end of his official visit to Venezuela, human rights organizations Türk gave a report listing 14,220 cases of alleged extrajudicial executions committed over the past 10 years.

This is the second time a High Commissioner for Human Rights has traveled to Caracas. Michelle Bachelet did it back in 2019, who at the time also called for the release of around 250 Venezuelans believed to be political prisoners.

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