Menu Close

Bachelet’s latest report on Venezuela

On June 29, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented the last oral update of her mandate, about human rights in Venezuela, in accordance with resolution 45/20 of the Human Rights Council. This report should have been focused on “on the latest developments related to economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, rule of law and civic space, and the level of implementation of the corresponding recommendations.” The update was followed by an interactive dialogue that continued on June 30.
In the opinion of some representatives of the human rights movement, this is the weakest report submitted under resolution 45/20.
The confirmation of a situation of impunity related to human rights violations stands out, where there are few cases of investigation that lead to sanctions and that focus on low-rank perpetrators, without affecting those higher ranks responsible in the chains of command.
Although part of the report must focus on the application of previous recommendations, there is no acknowledgment of compliance with recommendations in the areas of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, the right to life, detention and the right to physical and mental integrity, access to justice, adequate reparation and guarantees of non-repetition, democratic and civic space, the right to participate in public affairs, stigmatization and criminalization of civil society actors and fundamental freedoms. Although the report does not expressly refer to this non-compliance, it is clear that the general balance is negative, but the High Commissioner prefers to remain descriptive, without digging into the analysis of the situation of these rights.
The report acknowledges progresses in the areas of accountability and the rule of law, despite the fact that civil society organizations have pointed out on several occasions that the reforms announced in police and judicial matters have only been makeup that do not constitute structural changes. Similarly, regarding detention and the right to liberty and security of the person, the report refers to reformed laws, without evaluating their effective application.
It is also noteworthy that one of the areas of technical assistance in which the OHCHR was supposedly working in Venezuela was the development of a protocol for the prevention and investigation of torture. However, the report does not refer to the topic when addressing issues of detention and the right to physical and mental integrity.
Nor is there any reference to the international cooperation bill that would seriously affect the functioning of CSOs. It could be argued that there is no pronouncement because it is a project that has not yet entered into force; however, the High Commissioner has not spared positive words about reform announcements in other areas, so the lack of a statement regarding an announcement that constitutes a serious threat to civic space is alarming.
Although the report points out that “the reforms must be backed by a genuine engagement with civil society actors through meaningful, inclusive and genuine consultations”, the truth is that neither the Office in Geneva nor the presence in Venezuela have played a significant role. bridge in this area.
It is also striking the fact that the High Commissioner has referred to a figure in her oral intervention, which does not appear in the report nor does it seem supported. Bachelet stated that “civil society organizations report that, in the last five years, more than 150 children have died due to lack of transplants as a result of the sanctions.” AlertaVenezuela consulted with independent civil society organizations about the source of this claim, but no organization supported the thesis that the children have died as a result of the sanctions, since the transplant crisis preceded it. Everything seems to indicate that the source of the information is a non-independent organization, aligned with the political project of those who hold power in Venezuela. It is noteworthy that Bachelet made this reference in her response to the dialogue, just after the representative of Venezuela claimed that the report paid little attention to unilateral coercive measures.
Neither in the oral update nor in the written report did the High Commissioner make any reference to the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (FFM). The OHCHR has always argued that this lack of interaction and references to the work of the FFM is due to criteria of independence. However, in her presentation, mention was made of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, the Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures and the International Criminal Court, which are also independent mechanisms. Bachelet’s silence regarding the FFM for almost three years has generated enormous noise.
The report adds 19 additional recommendations to the existing ones, which will serve to continue setting an agenda, even though this High Commissioner will not be in charge of follow-up.
Just six months after the start of the OHCHR presence in Venezuela, AlertaVenezuela warned: “Although the OHCHR presence in Venezuela began with setbacks and is still fragile, it is a relevant step that requires attention”. Unfortunately, almost three years later, little progress has been made and Bachelet’s tone lacked the necessary energy to generate the required changes. It remains in the hands of Venezuelan civil society and the international community to deepen the task of establishing a country office, strong and capable of fully fulfilling the OHCHR mandate, without political calculations or undue interference.