Last Tuesday –September 27– the president of the UN Independent International Mission on Venezuela, Marta Valiñas, asserted that the Venezuelan intelligence services commit crimes against humanity under the orders of the highest echelons of the government of Nicolás Maduro to suppress the opposition.
“This plan was orchestrated at the highest political level, led by President Nicolás Maduro (…)”, Valiñas assured at a press conference. Likewise, he denounced that his investigations and analysis “show that the Venezuelan State uses the intelligence services and its agents to repress dissidence in the country. This leads to the commission of serious crimes and human rights violations, including acts of torture and sexual violence.”.
The report’s conclusions show the role of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) and the Military Counterintelligence Directorate (DGCIM) in carrying out these outrages “in the execution of a plan orchestrated by President Nicolás Maduro and other high-level authorities to repress opposition to the government, including through the commission of extremely serious torture, which constitute crimes against humanity”, the mission said in a statement.
The mission documented 122 cases of victims who were “subjected to torture, sexual violence and/or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” perpetrated by DGCIM agents from 2014 to the present.
The report detailed one by one the chilling methods that the alleged victims say are implemented by the Venezuelan intelligence services against opponents. According to the text, physical and psychological aggression stand out, as well as sexual violence:
- Suffocation with plastic bags, chemicals, or by using a container of water.
- Blows with blunt objects.
- Electric shocks to the genitals or other parts of the body.
- Threats of death or further violence.
- Threats of rape against the victim and/or their relatives.
- Forced nudity, even in extremely low temperature conditions.
- Remain chained for long periods of time.
According to the report of the UN Independent Mission, These events took place at its headquarters in Boleíta, Caracas, and in a network of undercover detention centers throughout the country.
In Caracas, Provea, one of the most active NGOs in denouncing human rights violations. H H. in the country, denounced this Tuesday that two Sebin officials tried to enter its headquarters to “intimidate” relatives of detained workers who were giving a press conference to demand their freedom.
“It seems very worrying to us, since we believe that it is part of a higher escalation against human rights organizations and against those who today denounce the repressive policy of President Nicolás Maduro,” said spokesmen for the NGO.
Human rights violations “continue”
According to the mission’s analysis and the information received, the authorities detained dissidents and opponents of the government. In some cases, Maduro and people from his close circle, as well as other high-level authorities, “participated in selecting the targets”.
The report also cites Diosdado Cabello, a powerful Chavista leader, as the author of orders to identify some of those detained by the Sebin.
The intelligence services “have tortured or ill-treated detainees – including opposition politicians, journalists, protesters and human rights defenders – mainly in the El Helicoide detention center” in the Venezuelan capital.
Former detainees in this center explained to the UN mission the terrible conditions in which they were found and that many prisoners “had to urinate in plastic bottles”, because they were only allowed one daily visit to the bathroom. There were “privileged” cells with better conditions for which detainees had to pay. The mission has investigated 51 cases that occurred since 2014.
“Both the Sebin and the DGCIM used sexual and gender-based violence to torture and humiliate their detainees,” he adds.
The mission, which has already presented two reports – in 2020 and 2021 – emphasizing human rights violations in Venezuela, insists that these acts, especially those committed by the Sebin and the DGCIM, “continue to this day.”
And “they have taken place in a climate of almost total impunity,” says Francisco Cox, a member of the UN mission.
*With information from AFP.