U.N.: Human Rights Council Member Venezuela Using Sexual Violence to Silence Dissidents

Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's president, speaks in a prerecorded video during the Unite
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (FFMV) released a report on Tuesday detailing how the socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro — which currently holds a seat at the U.N. Human Rights Council —  has utilized its intelligence and military agencies to carry out crimes against humanity.

The new report — the third released by the Independent Fact-Finding Mission since it was established in 2019 — describes how Maduro orchestrated and implemented plans alongside other high-ranking regime officials to suppress opposition to their rule, including the use of extreme acts of torture, sexual violence, and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatments.

The United Nations has a long track record of confirming human rights atrocities and other crimes by member states then taking no action, including failing to revoke privileges such as seats on select agencies like the Human Rights Council. U.N. experts had already accused Maduro of crimes against humanity when allowing the Maduro regime to serve on the Council last year.

Maduro retains that seat despite not being the legal president of Venezuela since 2019 when the country’s National Assembly used its constitutional powers to swear in legitimate — but powerless — President Juan Guaidó.

The latest report, published on the first day of the U.N. General Assembly’s high-level debate, did not change the Maduro regime’s status in the organization. Venezuela still maintains its position on the Human Rights Council for the 2020-2022 term. A delegation of the Maduro regime is slated to participate in General Assembly in favor of representatives for Guaidó.

As the Maduro regime has never allowed the Fact-Finding Mission to enter Venezuela, it based its findings and accusations on the confidential reports of 246 interviews of victims, their families, and former members of Maduro’s security and intelligence agencies.

The report focuses on the actions of two components of Maduro’s intelligence apparatus: the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) – which the report states “has the objective of identifying political dissidents and human rights activists, as well as other men and women who are perceived as contrary to the Government;” and the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), which “is aimed at military personnel and associated civilians allegedly involved in rebellions or coup attempts.”

In a press release dated September 20, Marta Valiñas, chair of the Fact-Finding Mission, stated, “our investigations and analysis show that the Venezuelan State relies on the intelligence services and its agents to repress dissent in the country.”

“In doing so, grave crimes and human rights violations are being committed, including acts of torture and sexual violence,” Valiñas asserted. “These practices must stop immediately, and the individuals responsible must be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with the law.”

The Fact-Finding Mission found that the Maduro regime’s DGCIM and SEBIN have extensively used sexual and gender-based violence to torture and humiliate citizens since at least 2014.

It also found cases of detainees subject to short-term forced disappearances and cases of citizens being beaten with blunt and sharp objects, as well as tortured with electric shocks, stress positions, suffocations, cuts, mutilations, death threats, and force-feeding of feces and vomit.

“The intelligence organizations also subjected the dissidents, both men and women, to sexual violence, including rape with body parts or objects and threats of rape against the detained person or their loved ones, forced nudity, as well as beatings and electric shocks to the genitals. These acts of sexual violence also constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” said Francisco Cox, one of the members of the Mission.

The report concluded by stating that Maduro’s human rights crimes remained “grave.”

“The country has endured a decade of spiraling humanitarian, social, economic and human rights crises, coupled with a breakdown of State institutions, all of this exacerbated by the impact of [Chinese coronavirus],” the report said. “Stark evidence of this are the more than six million people who have felt compelled to leave the country.”

The Fact-Finding Mission recommended to the international community that “states should consider bringing legal action against individuals responsible for the violations and crimes identified in this report, in accordance with their relevant domestic legislation.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council is scheduled to discuss the findings of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on September 26 as part of the agenda of its 51st session.

While Maduro personally is not attending the General Assembly this week, a representative of his regime is expected to address the prestigious platform.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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