UN Statement: Crisis for Human Rights & Rule of Law in Venezuela

The ICJ today made an oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council, on the crisis for human rights and the rule of law in Venezuela.

The statement was made in general debate under item 2 on the oral update delivered by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The ICJ statement read as follows:

“The ICJ welcomes the efforts of the High Commissioner and his Office to document and draw attention to the situation in Venezuela, including through the report published on 30 August. As the High Commissioner highlighted, the situation only continues to worsen and the ICJ fully supports his call for the Council to establish an international investigation into human rights violations in Venezuela.

The deep human rights crisis and the breakdown of the rule of law in Venezuela is undoubtedly the most worrying situation in the American hemisphere.

Arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, military trials of civilians and persecutions and harassments of opponents, dissidents and human rights defenders have become systematic and widespread practices.

The combined action of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Government and the National Constituent Assembly has destroyed the rule of law, suppressing the separation of powers, delivering a fatal blow to the Legislative, and seriously undermining independence and impartiality of the Judiciary.

The 1999 Constitution has de facto ceased to be in force and the road to arbitrary exercise of power has begun.

The ICJ considers that it is imperative that the Human Rights Council take action on this serious situation.”


The High Commissioner, in his oral update on 11 September, had stated as follows in relation to Venezuela:

“Last month my Office issued a report on Venezuela, highlighting excessive use of force by security officers, and multiple other human rights violations, in the context of anti-Government protests. There is a very real danger that tensions will further escalate, with the Government crushing democratic institutions and critical voices – including through criminal proceedings against opposition leaders, recourse to arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force, and ill-treatment of detainees, which in some cases amounts to torture. Venezuela is a Member State of this Council, and as such has a particular duty to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”, in the words of Resolution 60/251. My investigation suggests the possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed, which can only be confirmed by a subsequent criminal investigation. While I support the concept of a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the current mechanism is inadequate. I therefore urge that it be reconfigured with the support and involvement of the international community. I also urge this Council to establish an international investigation into the human rights violations in Venezuela.”


The ICJ also launched today a new report on Venezuela, and convened a side event to discuss the need for action by the Human Rights Council.

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