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President of Human Rights Council appoints Members of Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela

02 December 2019


GENEVA, 2 December 2019 – The President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Coly Seck (Senegal), announced today the appointment of Marta Valiñas (Portugal), Francisco Cox Vial (Chile) and Paul Seils (United Kingdom), to serve as the three members of the Fact-finding Mission on Venezuela.  Ms. Valiñas will serve as Chair of the Mission.

Through its resolution 42/25 of 27 September 2019, the Human Rights Council decided to urgently dispatch a mission to Venezuela “to investigate extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment since 2014 with a view to ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims”. 

The 47-member body decided to establish the independent international fact finding mission on Venezuela for a period of one year, while urging authorities to cooperate fully with the three-member mission by granting it "immediate, full and unfettered access to and throughout the country, including to victims and places of detention, and to provide it with all the information necessary to fulfil its mandate".

The three members, who will serve in their personal capacities, will meet in the coming weeks to determine their initial course of action - the strategy, methodology and fact-finding approach they will employ in discharging their mandate. 

The Mission is scheduled to present its findings to the Council during an interactive dialogue at its forty-fifth session in September 2020.

Biographies of the members of the Fact-finding Mission on Venezuela

Ms. Marta Valiñas (Portugal) is a human rights and legal professional, who has been specializing on international criminal justice and, more specifically, on sexual and gender-based crimes.  Most recently, she worked in one of the investigation teams at the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (2014-2019).  Prior to that, she worked as a legal adviser, both in non-governmental organizations, such as REDRESS (2009) and the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (2013/2014), and in the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (2009-2013).  She has consulted for various organizations, including UNICEF-IRC, UN Women, ICTJ, the OSCE Gender Section, and various times for Justice Rapid Response.  In this quality, she has recently trained and mentored legal professionals in domestic jurisdictions such as Guatemala and Colombia (2017 and 2019).  Ms. Valiñas holds a graduate degree in Law from the University of Porto and a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratization (E.MA).  She has also been an academic researcher at the University of Leuven on transitional justice (2004-2008).

Mr. Francisco Cox Vial (Chile) is a prominent Chilean criminal lawyer who led the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Government of President Enrique Peña Nieto to investigate the case of the 43 missing students in Ayotzinapa (Mexico). Mr. Cox litigated before the International Criminal Court, including in the case against Dominic Ongwen, in which Cox represents 2605 victims of the armed conflict in northern Uganda. Recently GRULAC nominated him to integrate the panel of five world experts that advises the Executive Committee of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court to elect the next Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. He studied law at Diego Portales University and then obtained a Master's Degree (LL.M) from Columbia University.

Mr. Paul Seils (United Kingdom) is currently the Director of Peace Practice and Innovation at the European Institute of Peace. He began his professional career as a criminal defence lawyer in his native Scotland where he also served as Legal Director of the Scottish Refugee Council. He has held various senior international posts including Head of Situation Analysis in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court from 2004-2008, the Analysis Chief in the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala; Head of the Rule of Law and Democracy Unit (a.i.) in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Vice President of the International Centre for Transitional Justice from 2011-2017.  He has written widely on human rights, criminal justice and transitional justice. He taught for several years on the Advanced LL.M at Leiden University, Netherlands, and is currently a Visiting Professor at St. Andrew’s University, Scotland.

For more information please visit the webpage for the Venezuela FFM.

For media inquiries please contact Rolando Gómez, Human Rights Council Media Officer: (+41 (0) 22.917.97.11 or +41 (0) 79.477.44.11 or [email protected])

For use of the information media; not an official record