UN Approves Independent Fact-Finding Mission for Venezuela

After Bachelet’s report, many wondered what the UN would do about human rights abuses in Venezuela. The Human Rights Council has just given us a straight answer.

Photo: AFP retrieved

Almost three months after the release of the Bachelet report, the UN’s Human Rights Council just approved establishing an “independent, international fact-finding mission” on Venezuela, during its 42nd session in Geneva. It’ll last a year and be dispatched into the country “urgently,” according to the HRC’s resolution.

The goal? To investigate “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and other cruel and degrading treatment since 2014, and ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for the victims.” 

The mission was approved with 19 countries in favor and seven against. 21 countries chose to abstain, including Mexico and Uruguay; the Lima Group presented the proposal, and it was backed by important human rights NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. 

The first reaction from Maduro’s government came from Jorge Valero, ambassador to the UN-Geneva, calling it a “hostile initiative,” announcing that they won’t provide cooperation.  They previously claimed “victory” after another resolution passes in the HRC (presented by some allies, like Iran, Turkey and North Korea) condemning the sanctions by the Trump administration. 

The Human Rights Council also asked High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to “continue monitoring the situation of human rights” in Venezuela, including new updates about the upcoming sessions of the HRC. She offered one earlier this month.

This comes just days after Bachelet and Maduro’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza signed an understanding in which the Maduro government commits to allow permanent presence of UN human rights personnel in situ, and opens the door to new visits in the next two years.

The European Union also announced sanctions on seven members of the Venezuelan security and intelligence services, for their direct involvement in torture and human rights violations. Four of them are allegedly involved in the death of Navy Captain Rafael Acosta, who died in custody in early July, with clear signs of torture. 

“The EU confirms its readiness to work on further targeted measures to foster such a negotiated transition,” the statement says, “leading to transparent and internationally monitored presidential elections.” The EU asked for a return to the Norway-sponsored talks, abandoned by the Maduro delegation weeks ago and later declared as an “exhausted” alternative by Juan Guaidó’s representatives.

This push from the international community comes after the government and a splinter opposition created their own version of dialogue talks, seen by many at home and abroad as a sham. Both sides are making efforts to reposition themselves: while Maduro just returned from a quick visit to Moscow, Guaidó’s foreign representative Julio Borges met with the Lima Group and U.S. President Donald Trump, during the UN General Assembly.