The UN Human Rights Office has a solid monitoring and reporting background on the human rights situation in Venezuela. It has issued two public reports (2017 and 2018) based on the High Commissioner’s global mandate under General Assembly resolution 48/141, and three additional reports (2019 and 2020) as per Human Rights Council resolutions 39/1 (2018), 42/4 (2019), and 42/25 (2019). Since September 2019, The High Commissioner also presents oral updates on the human rights situation in Venezuela to the Human Rights Council. The UN Human Rights Office will continue its monitoring and reporting work, as mandated by the Human Rights Council resolutions A/HRC/45/L.43 (2020) and A/HRC/45/L.55 (2020).
Since 2019, the UN Human Rights Office works in Venezuela as part of the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator. The presence in Venezuela allows the Office to provide support for the effective implementation of recommendations issued in these reports, as well as those from other UN human rights mechanisms, and continue to credibly assess the human rights situation and challenges from the ground.
Since October 2019, UN Human Rights in Venezuela has been providing technical assistance and monitoring the human rights situation with the aim to:
- Prevent the recurrence of human rights violations, through the establishment of an early warning strategy, including the development of a joint mechanism of referral of individual cases of human rights violations to the relevant authorities for urgent measures to be adopted.
- Increase implementation of recommendations issued by international human rights mechanisms such as treaty bodies, special procedures, the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review.
- Strengthen the rule of law and accountability for human rights violations. Technical assistance activities have included seminars with the National Commission for the Prevention of Torture and the Office of the Ombudsperson; updating protocols on the use of force; assessing preventive detention centres as well as the impact of sanctions on human rights, among others.
- Raise awareness and increase visibility of violations of economic and social rights, further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the disproportionate impact on women, children, indigenous peoples, older persons and persons with disabilities.
- Protect and enhance democratic space through the protection of human rights defenders, collaboration with civil society organizations and the promotion of participatory and inclusive processes in the discussions and adoption of human rights plans and policies.
OHCHR is also providing support promoting an inclusive and participatory methodology for the development of the second National Plan for Human Rights and the establishment of a national mechanism for reporting and follow-up of recommendations of international human rights mechanisms
The UN Human Rights Office plays a key role in strengthening the work of human rights organizations in the country by providing tools and advice on accessing international human rights mechanisms, as well as closely monitoring the situation of human rights defenders and media workers and supporting their work. In addition to assisting State institutions, it has also built a broad network of contacts and sources throughout the country.
It also plays an important role having direct access to victims and their families. Since it established its presence in the country, OHCHR has gained increasing access to places of detention, including more recently those administered by intelligence services. The UN Human Rights Office was able to continue those visits even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when family and lawyers’ visits had been suspended, thus bridging the gap between detainees and the outside world. Together with authorities, the UN Human Rights Office has also jointly developed a mechanism of referral of specific cases and situations of human rights violations to the relevant authorities.
The presence also provides an opportunity to engage with other United Nations agencies at the country level to contribute to the incorporation of a human rights-based approach to the humanitarian response and to address human rights protection gaps. The UN Human Rights Office plays a key role in strengthening the United Nations early warning system and prompting concrete and preventive responses to critical situations.