A UN report has revealed a “shockingly high” number of alleged extrajudicial killings by security forces in Venezuela in the last 18 months.
Venezuela’s government registered nearly 5,300 killings last year during security operations it linked to “resistance to authority”, according to UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.
It also claimed 1,569 criminals had been killed for the same reasons by 19 May this year.
But according to the UN report, families of 20 men have described how masked men dressed in black from Venezuela’s Special Action Forces (FAES) had arrived at their homes in black pickup trucks without licence plates.
In the accounts, the “death squads” broke into houses, took belongings and assaulted family members before separating young men and shooting them.
The report said: “In every case, witnesses reported how FAES manipulated the crime scene and evidence.
“They would plant arms and drugs and fire their weapons against the walls or in the air to suggest a confrontation and to show the victim had “resisted authority”.
It said the killings were part of President Nicolas Maduro’s government’s strategy for “neutralising, repressing and criminalising political opponents and people critical of the government”.
A written response from the Caracas government called the report a “selective and openly partial vision”, and argued the UN relied on “sources lacking in objectivity”.
The country was plunged into a political crisis earlier this year after the opposition tried to unseat the current government – all while an economic collapse has prompted an exodus of the population toward Mexico and the United States.
The report is based on 558 interviews with victims and witnesses of human rights violations and the deteriorating economic situation, in Venezuela and eight other countries, and covers the period from January 2018 to May 2019.
During the reporting period, the UN says civil and military forces have allegedly been responsible for arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment and torture of people critical of the government and their relatives, sexual and gender-based violence in detention and during visits and excessive use of force during demonstrations.
Powered by WPeMatico