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UN Rights Office Regrets Venezuela’s Decision To Suspend Operations

UN Rights Office Regrets Venezuela’s Decision To Suspend Operations

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) is evaluating its next steps while continuing to engage with Venezuelan authorities following the Government’s announcement on Thursday that the Office must suspend operations in the country and its staff leave within 72 hours.

Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for OHCHR, said in a statement that the Office regretted the announcement and continues to engage with the authorities and other stakeholders.

“Our guiding principle has been and remains the promotion and protection of the human rights of the people of Venezuela,” she added.

Earlier this week, OHCHR said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that it was following up on the detention of human rights defender Rocío San Miguel “with deep concern.”

“Her whereabouts remain unknown, potentially qualifying her detention as an enforced disappearance,” it said, calling for her immediate release and for her right to legal defence to be respected.

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Hours before the Venezuelan Government’s announcement, the Office said on X: “Following statements by the authorities, we note that Rocio San Miguel’s place of detention – thus her whereabouts – has been confirmed” and that four of her relatives had been conditionally released.

It also called for due process guarantees, including respect for the right to defence representation.

OHCHR in Venezuela

Since October 2019, OHCHR has been working in Venezuela, providing technical assistance and monitoring the situation to protect and promote respect for human rights, enhance the rule of law and preserve democratic space.

OHCHR has also been supporting the inclusive and participatory development of the second national plan for human rights and establishing a national mechanism for reporting and following recommendations of international human rights mechanisms.

Detention of Rocío San Miguel

According to the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela, Ms. San Miguel, the president of the civil society organization Control Ciudadano, was detained by authorities on 9 February.

The fact-finding mission said in a statement on Tuesday that Venezuelan security forces detained her “as she was trying to board a flight together with her daughter at Simón Bolívar International Airport”.

Marta Valiñas, the chairperson of the fact-finding mission, had called on the authorities to provide information on Ms San Miguel and her daughter as well as “all detainees whose places of detention are still unknown”.

“It is incumbent upon the Government to refrain from using repressive measures contrary to its international human rights and international criminal law obligations,” Ms Valiñas added.

The UN Human Rights Council established the fact-finding mission in September for one year to assess alleged human rights violations committed since 2014. Its mandate has been extended until September 2024.

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