A team of U.N. investigators said the Venezuelan government has failed to honor its pledge to reform its judicial system and end impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations.
The three-member Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela submitted its latest report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday.
The report follows one presented to the U.N. council in September detailing Venezuela’s shortcomings on human rights. Shortly after that, President Nicolas Maduro’s government signed a memorandum of understanding with the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, promising to take all necessary steps to bring Venezuela’s administration of justice in line with international standards.
President of the International Fact-Finding Mission, Marta Valinas, welcomed the pledge. However, she said efforts to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of crimes have fallen short of the mark and that many victims have missed their opportunity to obtain justice.
Speaking through an interpreter, Valinas cited the cases of a Venezuelan intelligence operative and a detective who pled guilty to murder and other charges.
“These officials were low in rank, were sentenced to five years and 10 months," Valinas said. "In February of this year, the Tenth Chamber of the Caracas Appeal Court cut their sentences to two years and eight months, and they were released.”
The U.N. investigators expressed concern that only low-level officials are prosecuted, while senior officials go free. Valinas notes that victims of human rights violations and other crimes have the right to participate in judicial proceedings. However, she notes this right has not been upheld.
She said the daily lives of the Venezuelan people continue to be scarred by the lack of justice and security.
“Venezuelans suffer the effects of deep economic, humanitarian-human rights crisis in their daily lives as well as the deterioration of state institutions," Valinas said. "This has all been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The clearest reflection of this is the six million people who felt the need to leave the country.”
Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Hector Constant Rosales, called the fact-finding report a waste of time and money. He said the report is a fabrication and a compilation of fake news. He added the work has been carried out at a distance, contains no facts, and is selective in nature.
He accused the report’s authors of trying to undermine the sovereignty and self-determination of Venezuelans, adding that Venezuelans enjoy all human rights and democratic freedoms.