Venezuela: ICJ and 83 organizations call the Human Rights Council to renew and strengthen the mandate of the International Independent Fact-Finding Mission

Today, the ICJ joined 83 other human rights organizations to call the United Nations Human Rights Council to renew and strengthen the mandate of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Venezuela in its upcoming session in September, and to ensure it has adequate resources to continue its critical work.

The ICJ considers that the lack of judicial independence in the country, recently addressed by the High Commissioner and documented by ICJ during several years,  presents a major obstacle to victims seeking to access  effective remedies and reparation for gross human rights violations in the country. There has also been near complete impunity for those responsible for such violations. The lack of effective accountability makes the work of the FFM indispensable

Last year at its 42nd session, UN Human Rights Council established the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission with a mandate to investigate extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment since 2014.

The Council expressed “grave concern at the alarming situation of human rights in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which includes patterns of violations directly and indirectly affecting all human rights (…) in the context of the ongoing political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis.”

The FFM’s first report is expected to be presented at the Council’s next session scheduled for 14 September to 6 October.

The NGO joint statement stressed that the report “will mark an important first step on the path to accountability in Venezuela through the documentation of the participation of those suspected of criminal responsibility. It is critical that the Human Rights Council respond meaningfully to the findings and recommendations in the report”.

The ICJ notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has engendered further stresses on the human rights situation. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in July 2020 that an “assessment of water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) conditions in 17 hospitals conducted by PAHO/WHO in 2019 found that 88.3 per cent of the assessed hospitals present a high risk that hygiene and sanitary conditions pose a health risk to patients and staff; the rest face a medium risk.”

The joint statement is available here.

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