GENEVA - The U.N. high commissioner for human rights is calling on the Venezuelan government and opposition to resolve their differences, which are causing the socio-economic conditions and human rights abuse in the country to worsen. High commissioner Michelle Bachelet has presented an update on the situation in Venezuela at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The United Nations reports more than 4.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants have fled the country. Most are in neighboring nations. U.N. rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, warns the exodus will continue as long as socio-economic conditions and human rights abuses deteriorate.
“My office has documented cases of torture and ill-treatment, physical and psychological, of people arbitrarily deprived of liberty, particularly members of the military," she said. "Conditions of detention do not meet minimum international standards and those detained do not have access to adequate medical care. I call on the authorities to take action to correct these practices, allow access to medical care, and investigate human rights violations."
Bachelet visited Venezuela in June and was allowed to re-establish her office in the capital, Caracas. Since then, she says, Nicolas Maduro's government has released 83 people who had been arbitrarily detained, and inmates are receiving more medical care.
But she says these advances pale in comparison with the suffering of millions of inhabitants brought on by hyperinflation, the lack of food, medicine and other essential goods and services.
“In this context, on 8th August I expressed my concern regarding the potentially severe impact on human rights of the new sanctions imposed by the government of the U.S.A.," she said. "Despite the exceptions in the latest sanctions covering humanitarian assistance, over-compliance of the financial sector, the reduction of public revenues, and the decrease in oil revenues is already having a serious impact on social programs and the population generally.”
Bachelet warns the exodus of Venezuelan refugees and migrants is having destabilizing impacts in the region. She expresses concern about reports of outbreaks of xenophobia in host countries and the increasing risk of Venezuelans becoming victims of various forms of violence, exploitation and trafficking.