Venezuela’s president and top ministers are responsible for probable crimes against humanity, UN investigators said on Wednesday in a report the country’s government quickly labeled as “riddled with falsehoods.”
A team tasked with probing a slew of alleged violations said they had found evidence that state actors, including President Nicolas Maduro, were behind serious crimes such as extrajudicial killings and the systematic use of torture.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza pushed back on Twitter, criticizing the report for being “drawn up remotely without methodological rigor” and “controlled by governments that are subservient to Washington.”
He said the document, which was created by an International Fact-Finding Mission initiated by the UN Human Rights Council a year ago, was “riddled with falsehoods.”
Mission chairperson Marta Valinas said the report “found reasonable grounds to believe that Venezuelan authorities and security forces have since 2014 planned and executed serious human rights violations.”
Some of those violations, “including arbitrary killings and the systematic use of torture, amount to crimes against humanity,” said Valinas, whose three-person team was unable to enter Venezuela but relied on remote interviews with victims, witnesses and others, as well as analysis of legal files.
“Far from being isolated acts, these crimes were coordinated and committed pursuant to state policies, with the knowledge or direct support of commanding officers and senior government officials.”
The 411-page report identified the Venezuelan officials deemed responsible, citing “reasonable grounds to believe that both the president and the ministers of People’s Power for Interior Relations, Justice and Peace, and for Defence, ordered or contributed to the commission of the crimes documented.”