GENEVA – Venezuela’s security forces have mistreated and tortured protesters and detainees in a generalized and systematic manner and arbitrarily detained thousands of people, the United Nations office of the high commissioner for human rights denounced on Tuesday.
OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said the office had received “credible reports” of Venezuelan security forces’ “inhumane, cruel and degrading” treatment of detainees, adding that in many cases, they could be defined as torture.
“We are concerned that the situation in Venezuela is escalating and these patterns of human rights violations are showing no signs of abating,” Shamdasani said at a press briefing in Geneva.
She added that these instances of mistreatment were not isolated cases.
The spokeswoman also denounced the dismissal of the country’s attorney general, Luisa Ortega Diaz, and said it was a further sign of an “increasing undermining of democratic institutions and of independent institutions.”
She then called on the Venezuelan government to ensure Ortega Diaz’s safety and to rein in security forces by investigating the alleged human rights abuses.
“Journalists have reportedly been shot at with tear gas canisters and buck shot and been detained, threatened and had their equipment taken on several occasions,” Shamdasani added.
Meanwhile, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said in a statement: “These violations have occurred amid the breakdown of the rule of law in Venezuela, with constant attacks by the Government against the National Assembly and the Attorney-General’s Office.