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A critical update of fact-finding work

Human Rights and Accountability in Venezuela: A Critical Renewal of the Fact-Finding Mission's Mandate
Yuri Cortez/AFP

Third Report of the Fact-Finding Commission on the Venezuela Documents Crimes against humanity committed by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service and the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence. A serious situation has also been established in the Orinoco Mining Arc and other parts of Bolivar State due to illegal gold mining and the participation of violent armed groups.

In the forum Human Rights and Accountability in Venezuela: Findings of the Third Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on VenezuelaHuman rights defenders have highlighted the insecurity of the Venezuelan people and the complicity of state security agencies in criminal activities that harm the people.

At the meeting, he moderated Beatrice BorgesDirector Center for Justice and Peaceparticipated Eumelis Moya, Andres Bello Coordinator of the Human Rights Center of the Catholic University, Guyana Nuclear; Mercedes deFreitas, Director of Transparency Venezuela; Sara Fernandez, Cephas International Lawyer; Tamara Darasiuk, United States Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch, and Martha Valinas, Chairman of the Fact-Finding Committee.

“Violations must stop immediately”

Marta Valinas stressed that human rights violations in Venezuela must be stopped immediately and that the necessary institutional and structural changes must be guaranteed to ensure justice. Since the beginning of the fact-finding mission, investigators have documented patterns and individual cases that have allowed them to assess, in a concrete way, how these practices have been developed and whether or not progress has been made.

A critical update of fact-finding work
Marta Valinas, President of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela | Capture/Zoom Webinar

These actions are not stopped, they are done continuouslyand not by officers acting in an adversarial way or outside the control of their superiors, but rather subservient to the policy and strategy of higher-level political authorities, giving their orders and instructions to higher officials within these structures. Lawyer specializing in human rights.

For the third report, experts interviewed 88 people who provided information, in addition to the 400 interviews conducted for previous reports. These include victims, relatives of victims, legal representatives, operators of the justice system and former officials of Dgcim and Sebin, who know how the procedures and orders are delivered locally. Thus, they confirmed and supplemented the data obtained earlier.

Bolivar: Toleration with criminals

Valinas, who worked on one of the investigative teams of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, spoke about the situation in the Orinoco tunnel and other parts of Bolivar state. Serious human rights violations Committed by state agents and criminal armed groups.

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In the region, the researcher asserted coexistence or tolerance by state authorities regarding activities carried out by armed criminal groups. Practical control in mines and local population. Circumstances that require further investigation.

“We have been able to document a few cases that reveal not only the dynamics of violence within criminal armed groups and the types of violence they perpetrate against local populations. The dynamics between these groups and state agencies and members at the state level”He said.

“Modern Slavery”

Yumelis Moya, coordinator of the Center for Human Rights at the Catholic University of Guyana Nucleus Andres Bello pointed this out. Confirmed that there is a situation of modern slavery that is dynamic in two areas: Labor exploitation and sexual exploitation.

A critical update of fact-finding work
Eumelys Moya, Andrés Bello Catholic University, Guyana nucleus Human Rights Center Office Coordinator | Capture/Zoom Webinar

“People come to the mining area driven by a complex humanitarian emergency or inspired by the search for dynamic economic developments. Revive a gold rush of sorts Citizens of Bolivar and other states of the country go to work in the mining camps,” said the lawyer.

Investigation revealed Working hours are produced in inhumane conditions and last up to 14 hours a day.

Affected girls, adolescents and women

Moya explained that sexual exploitation especially affects girls, adolescents and women, and warned that the situation has worsened and normalized because it is seen as a way for families to survive and survive. He said that it is a matter of context and since the people who control the place are unlikely to reach any mining town and get confessions from the inhabitants or the data.

I confirm that In mining operations, men have a “special preference” for adolescent girls 12 to 15 years old. There were also lawsuits Girls as young as 7 and 8 are sexually exploited. The lawyer asserted that these events take place with the presumed approval of the state, as they take place in squares and public spaces without the intervention, detention or permission of the authorities.

“It’s not just sexual exploitation, it’s the conditions that go with it. It’s the issue of water pollution. Forced and disproportionate labor for women and children due to demanding physical conditions; Attempt to load up to 60 bags of gold-bearing material weighing 45 to 50 kg. Endemic diseases such as yellow fever and bacterial gastrointestinal infections have proliferated,” he said.

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Insecure and vulnerable population

Valinas believes that in such a militarized area with the presence of state forces, the population is vulnerable and vulnerable to the activities of these criminal armed groups. It includes workers in mines and members of tribal communities. On the other hand, mostly for people Women and girls caught up in the movement of violence, Such as sexual and gender-based violence.

A critical update of fact-finding work
Mercedes de Freitas, Transparency Venezuela | Capture/Zoom Webinar

“We must continue to examine the facts that create trafficking, sexual slavery and other forms of slavery. Condemning this type of violation requires continuous presence and building relationships of trust with people who are capable of documenting these facts and directing these people to some support measures,” Valinas said.

Member States of the United Nations Human Rights Council next week They will vote if they want Renewal of mandate for two more years. The lawyer said that they have already established some things that they consider important to continue the investigations, such as the period before the presidential election.

“It is important to continue to pay attention to democratic space and public debate and to all the ways it is defined by human rights violations, including violations of freedom of expression and association. That really remains a concern: how democratic dialogue is or is not allowed and what kind of Threats against journalists and human rights defenders continue. The mission will definitely be one of the focus issues,” he said.

Millions of dollars worth of contraband

Mercedes de Freitas, director of Transparency Venezuela, said the Venezuelan state is not alien to illegal activities in the Orinoco mining arc. said the historian There is a huge network operating in that area “Tight Links” Along with international criminals and many high government actors.

He pointed around 70% of the region’s annual production, estimated at $2,000 million, is smuggled Despite the Venezuelan constitution and law guaranteeing that this money must enter the Central Bank of Venezuela.

“The state of Venezuela has a strong presence in the Orinoco mining corridor. We can also see the Venezuelan Mining Company under General Carlos Osorio. A long list of new companies called strategic alliances, The state has majority stake and physical presence. But there are also the national armed forces and their components Dgcim, Sebin and the municipal and regional police,” he said.

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Tamara Tarasiuk, deputy director for the United States at Human Rights Watch Capture/Zoom Webinar

De Freitas explained that the mines were considered illegal and were created with basic technology that destroyed the territory. A national guard, an alcabala or official of the mayor’s office or government.

Offenders with wide control

But despite this immense presence and power of the state, the director of Transparencia Venezuela observed. Controlled by criminal gangs Political, social and cultural.

“That is why we say that the relationship between criminal networks and the state is symbiotic, because if it is not clearly visible and in some cases not really, a separation; “The state is entangled with a criminal network and the leaders of that criminal network have ties to state actors.”said.

Historian asserted that each leader was integrated in the areas that imposed their terms. Aboriginal, mining or creole people, for reasons of survival, are now considered part of the complex system. who run criminal gangs.

The task of gathering evidence is “vital”.

Tamara Tarasiuk, deputy director of the United States of Human Rights Watch, said this Renewal of fact-finding work to gather evidence proving human rights-violating practices is crucial Officials in Venezuela have promised that. He also pointed out that experts can carry out preventive monitoring before the presidential election to be held in 2024.

“These are not the only efforts outside of Venezuela to seek justice for the victims. But in reality there is a political negotiation to create incentives Officials do not willingly or voluntarily make concessions. This international pressure mechanism is indeed important; In turn, they are allowing a dialogue that will lead us to fair electoral conditions,” he added.

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