UN mission: ICC may need to probe its findings on Venezuela

Geneva, Sep 26 (EFE).- A United Nations-established fact-finding mission on Venezuela presented a report here Monday on alleged political repression by Venezuela’s intelligence services, calling on that country’s judicial authorities conduct a thorough investigation.

It added that, if not, its allegations could be probed by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Venezuela’s government, for its part, slammed the report – presented Monday to the UN Human Rights Council – during an interactive dialogue at that body on Monday in Geneva.

The report accuses Venezuela’s civilian and military intelligence services – the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) and the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence (Dgcim) – of committing crimes against humanity to repress political dissent.

It said that repression is being organized and supervised at the highest level, including by leftist President Nicolas Maduro.

“People who are at the highest political levels in the country, and that includes President Maduro and those close to him, have had a very significant role in the policy of repressing dissident voices, and at times they’ve given orders on who should be monitored and detained,” Marta Valiñas, chair of the three-person Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Venezuela, told Efe after the presentation of the report.

Chile’s Francisco Cox, a member of the delegation, told Efe that “our recommendation is for Venezuela’s Attorney General’s Office and the judicial branch to fulfill their obligation and investigate the people we cited in this report.”

“If they don’t do so, the International Criminal Court could take on that role.”

Countries with international jurisdiction also may assume that role at the request of the victims, Cox said.

Argentina’s Patricia Tappata, also a member of the fact-finding mission, added that the convincing nature of the published information won’t go unnoticed by the international community.

She added that she hopes the UN Human Rights Council renews the mission’s mandate, which is set to expire this month, for an additional two years.

“Non-renewal would be regrettable for the victims and civil society … since we’re practically the only body that’s publishing details on the violations and those responsible for them,” Cox added.

The document says that among those responsible for the alleged abuses at Venezuelan intelligence detention centers are the current Sebin director general, Gustavo Enrique Gonzalez; the director of the Helicoide (main detention center) between 2014 and 2018, Carlos Alberto Calderon; and his deputy during that period, Ronny Gonzalez.

Among the Dgcim officials, the report points the finger at that intelligence service’s director general, Ivan Rafael Hernandez, and others formerly responsible for different tiers of that agency: Rafael Antonio Franco, Hannover Esteban Guerrero and Alexander Enrique Granko.

“The repression hasn’t stopped. The torture is still being hidden. And there are still people held in the Helicoide or in Boleita despite decrees stating that they should be transported to the prison system,” Tappata told Efe.

During the interactive dialogue, Valiñas said the Fact-Finding Mission had conducted 246 in-person and remote interviews and had carried out three missions to areas near the border, as they were not permitted to conduct investigations in Venezuela, according to a meeting summary published on the UN Human Rights Council’s website.

Venezuela, speaking as a country concerned during the dialogue, “roundly rejected (the report) in form and substance,” that same summary said.

It said the “so-called Fact-Finding Mission had surpassed itself, creating a fiction about the country, aiming to please the international media circus, whose vultures just wanted to feed and not reflect what was really happening.” EFE


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