UN Investigators Accuse Venezuelan Government of Crimes Against Humanity

U.N. investigators alleged Wednesday that the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has committed crimes against humanity that include murders, torture and other atrocities.
Independent investigators commissioned by the Human Rights Council, the U.N.’s top human rights body, said in a report that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Maduro and his defense and interior ministers were aware of crimes committed by government security forces and intelligence agencies.
In attempts to silence the opposition, the report said, they committed crimes that include extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture. The report also said senior Venezuelan officials had control over the security forces and intelligence agencies, making those officials responsible.
Maduro’s socialist government did not immediately respond to the allegations in the report, which are based on 3,000 cases and more than 270 interviews with victims, witnesses, former officials, confidential documents and attorneys.
“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,” panel chair Marta Valinas said in a statement.
The report is likely to result in increased global scrutiny on the Maduro administration, which is governing a country torn by hyperinflation, a violent government crackdown and a migration of millions of citizens who have fled to nearby countries to escape the chaos that has persisted since he took office in 2013.
Maduro’s government has faced mounting pressure from the United States and dozens of other countries that recognize politician Juan Guaido as the legitimate president.
Maduro has said this is part of a plan to overthrow him so the U.S. can exploit Venezuela’s vast oil reserves.
The U.N. fact-finding mission, established by the Human Rights Council to investigate alleged crimes since 2014, was not given access to Venezuela. The authors of the report said the Maduro government did not respond to inquiries.
Article 7 of the U.N. treaty that established the International Criminal Court defines a crime against humanity as an act that is part of a “widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.”  

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