45th session of the Human Rights Council Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Geneva Geneva, 14 September 2020
Madam President, Excellencies,
I am pleased to present this update on the cooperation and technical assistance between my Office and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (HRC/42/42.4). On 23 September, I will address the human rights situation in the country.
One year after signing the Letter of Understanding, my Office has strengthened its presence in Venezuela. Since my last oral update, we have made progress in technical cooperation in areas such as the revision of police protocols on the use of force and on a diagnosis of the factors that affect the overcrowding of pre-trial detention centres.
We have also made progress in the exchange of information on individual cases and human rights situations, highlighting the responses received recently in some cases, such as maintaining telephone calls with family members after prison visits were suspended due to COVID-19. Likewise, the Attorney General ratified his commitment to make progress in the investigation of 58 alleged cases of extrajudicial executions by security forces and in 35 cases of deaths documented by my Office in the context of protests.
Due to the pandemic, the visit of the Special Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures has been rescheduled for next year and we will support two additional special procedures visits in that year.
With my team's recent visit to the Centro Penitenciario Occidental in Santa Ana, Táchira, my Office has conducted 15 visits to 14 detention centres since the signing of the Letter of Understanding, demonstrating the important role my team plays on the ground with respect to detainees and their families.
I highlight the recent visit of my team, just last week, to the main detention centres of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, SEBIN, and the Directorate General of Military Counter-Intelligence, DGCIM, in Caracas during which we were able to confidentially interview a total of 39 people linked to significant cases, in full implementation of the Letter of Understanding. These visits constitute a remarkable leap forward. I am confident that this constructive practice will continue and will serve to improve the condition of the detainees and that other emblematic centres can be visited in the near future.
I take note of the Government's decisions to grant house arrest to parliamentarian John Requesens and to pardon 110 other people. I call on the Government to continue to release of all those who have been arbitrarily detained. Decisions such as these contribute to political détente and the opening up of democratic space.
Finally, I would like to inform you that we have signed with the Government the renewal of the Letter of Understanding for a renewable year. The new agreement includes tripling of the number of human rights officers in the country, with greater legal autonomy, as well as the formalization of a mechanism for the exchange of information on individual cases. I am confident that we will make further progress towards establishing an office in Venezuela as the situation warrants and as most of our interlocutors expect.
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