Venezuela: IACHR Condemns Expulsion of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Technical Team

February 20, 2024

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) strongly condemns the decision to suspend the activities of the Technical Advisory Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Venezuela.

The Foreign Ministry's announcement on February 15 required the OHCHR technical team to leave the country within 72 hours. This measure follows the High Commissioner's office statement on the enforced disappearance of human rights defender Rocío San Miguel, an incident also internationally denounced by the IACHR.

The IACHR shares the OHCHR's concerns regarding the treatment of individuals perceived as opposing the government. The Commission has documented arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial killings, the absence of due process rights, indefinite incarcerations, and forced disappearances of political opponents and human rights defenders. In this regard, several precautionary measures have been issued calling upon the state to ensure the right to life and personal integrity of those detained, including through appropriate prison conditions.

Over the last years, the Venezuelan government has demonstrated disregard for its international obligations by denouncing treaties and conventions and expelling civil society organizations with a ground presence, along with members of electoral missions. The recent decision to suspend OHCHR activities underscores Venezuela's rejection of international human rights scrutiny, a particularly grave concern in a country marked by the closure of all democratic space and the absence of the rule of law.

The Commission urgently calls on Venezuela to reverse this decision and re-engage with OHCHR and immediately release human rights activist Rocío San Miguel, demonstrating tangible commitment to human rights and democratic reconstruction. Simultaneously, the Commission continues to request the State's consent for a visit to the country and reiterates its steadfast commitment to resume the dialogue with the State, and to promote and protect human rights, especially of those experiencing human rights violations.

The IACHR, a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission is tasked with promoting the observance and defense of human rights in the region, acting as an advisory body to the OAS in this domain. Comprising seven independent members elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, these members do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 036/24

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