The Venezuelan regime lead by Nicolás Maduro was accused of committing “egregious violations” since 2014 “amounting to crimes against humanity,” in a United Nations report published Wednesday.
The report by a U.N. mission investigating human rights violations in Venezuela, found several examples of extrajudicial killings, politically motivated detentions, torture and forced disappearances.
“The Mission found reasonable grounds to believe that Venezuelan authorities and security forces have since 2014 planned and executed serious human rights violations, some of which – including arbitrary killings and the systematic use of torture – amount to crimes against humanity,” said Marta Valiñas, chairperson of the mission.
“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,” she added.
A previous report by U.N.’s human rights chief, former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, referred to thousands of killings by Venezuelan’s security forces. But this is the first time U.N. investigators directly point at Maduro and other high ranking officials as responsible for violence against his opponents.
“President Maduro and the Ministers of the Interior and of Defence were aware of the crimes,” a summary of the report says. “They gave orders, coordinated activities, and supplied resources in furtherance of the plans and policies under which the crimes were committed.”
The head of the Venezuelan National Assembly and interim president Juan Guaidó, who has mounted a challenge to the Maduro regime over the past 20 months, quickly reacted on Twitter to say the report worked to the opposition’s advantage. He is trying to unite the opposition to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections organized by Maduro.
“The U.N. Mission reports clears any doubts: Maduro is a criminal who, in addition to dealing with drug trafficking and terrorism, commits crimes against humanity,” he wrote. “ It is a great development that turns the table to our advantage in our fights for freedom and justice for the victims.”
The report contains some grisly details about state violence against Venezuelans and the role of the FAES, Maduro’s elite police.
An FAES official interviewed for the report said that they believed their mission was “to eliminate persons that are dregs of society, to perform a ‘social cleansing’.”
“Two former FAES officers, interviewed separately, told the Mission that should brigades fail to kill the required number of presumed criminals, they proceeded to ‘kill innocents’,” the report added.
Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres