On Monday, September 26, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue with the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Several facts stand out from the report presented and the interactive dialogue.
First, as AlertaVenezuela expressed in its intervention in the interactive dialogue, there are four key expressions in the FFMV report: Deliberate plan, high level, against humanity and impunity. These are words repeated throughout the report and are supported by an impressive body of evidence that includes maps, command structures and other elements evidencing the responsibility of the State. These are actions that the Mission does not hesitate to describe as deliberate, part of a plan, and not as isolated events or the product of individual initiatives. This includes the Orinoco Mining Arc, where human rights violations take place in a territory that is militarized.
Second, the report shook the Council. This is reflected in the expressions used by the representatives of different countries in their interventions. Beyond the usual terms in the diplomatic world such as “worrying”, in this dialogue the delegates used expressions such as “shock”, “consternation”, “disturbing”, to qualify the report’s findings.
Third, Venezuela not only disqualified but also adopted a threatening attitude. The representative of the State was not satisfied with his well-known maneuvers to disqualify the messenger, questioning the methodology and the supposed political motivations of the Mission’s mandate. The official representative warned that the States that vote in favor of the renewal of the Mission’s mandate will face reprisals, holding that the government: “alerts the promoters of this initiative that it will take the pertinent political and diplomatic measures (…) against any attempt to further prolong the mandate of this mechanism of aggression.” In other words, just as in Venezuela dissidence and opposition votes are sanctioned and persecuted, now the Maduro regime openly threatens other countries if they vote to maintain the FFMV. Thus, the government shows its true face, very different from that of a supposed collaborating State of the human rights system, deserving re-election in the Human Rights Council.
Fourth, it is an unfinished report. One of the reports identified six repressive structures, but only managed to document and develop the modus operandi of two of them, so the other four structures still need to be investigated in depth. In addition, the report on the Orinoco Mining Arc identifies other armed actors that affect the rights of the population in the territories they dominate, including indigenous peoples, children and women. This demonstrates the need to renew the Mission’s mandate, to further investigate these structures and the impact of irregular armed groups that act with the consent or complicity of the authorities.
Fifth, the Mission has not had the necessary support. In diplomatic terms consistent with its role, the Mission claims in its report that “There is an urgent need for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to find a solution that ensures that recruitment processes are compatible with the temporary character of mechanisms as the Mission, in order to allow that it can fully develop its investigative potential”. Like the crackdown in Venezuela, this is part of a deliberate plan as well. High Commissioner Bachelet never provided the Mission with the necessary support. On the contrary, she wanted to prevent its creation and when she did not succeed, then she excluded it from all backup, beyond the indispensable minimum, to the point that in her 11 interventions before the Human Rights Council, she did not make a single reference to the Mission, unlike the treatment she had towards other investigative mechanisms created by the Council.
After three years of work by the Mission, the facts are in the process of being established, in order to achieve the justice claimed by the victims. The continuation of this important labor will depend on the renewal of its mandate and on the new High Commissioner providing it with the necessary financial and institutional support to carry out its mandate. Democratic countries and donors have a critical role to play in achieving these goals.