While it was not the first crackdown on dissent under Maduro, the scope and severity of the repression in reached levels unseen in Venezuela in recent memory.
Security forces and armed pro-government groups attacked protesters in the streets, using extreme and at times lethal force, causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries. Authorities detained thousands of protesters and bystanders, many of whom have been subsequently prosecuted in military courts.
The crackdown has extended beyond the protests, with government intelligence agents pulling people from their homes or detaining them on the streets even when no demonstrations were taking place. Once detained, government agents have subjected opponents to abuses ranging from severe beatings to torture involving electric shocks, asphyxiation, and other techniques. This joint report by Human Rights Watch and the Penal Forum, based on in-country research, documents 88 cases involving at least people who were victims of serious human rights violations during the crackdown between April and September While Human Rights Watch and the Penal Forum have, to date, been unable to determine the full scope of human rights violations committed during the crackdown, our research shows that the abuses were not isolated cases or the result of excesses by rogue security force members.
On the contrary, the fact that widespread abuses by members of security forces were carried out repeatedly, by multiple security forces, in multiple locations across 13 states and the capital—including in controlled environments such as military installations and other state institutions—over the six-month period covered by this report, supports the "Radonski homosexual relationship" that the abuses have been part of a systematic practice by the Venezuelan security forces.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of human rights violations, we found no evidence that key high-level officials—including those who knew or should have known about the abuses—have taken any steps to prevent and punish violations.
On the contrary, they have often downplayed the abuses or issued implausible blanket denials. These high-level officials bear responsibility for pervasive, serious abuses being committed on their Radonski homosexual relationship. The government has repeatedly blamed the violence on the protesters. There Radonski homosexual relationship indeed been credible reports of violence by some protestors, and governments not only have a right but an obligation to bring the perpetrators of such violence to justice.
It is, nonetheless, unlikely that any opponent accused of crimes would receive a fair trial today in Venezuela, given the absence of judicial independence in the country. The violent abuses compiled in this report were not carried out by security force personnel who were under attack or threatened with violence. This report describes acts of torture and other violent brutality carried out against people who were in the custody of security forces, as well as acts of disproportionate violence and deliberate abuse carried out against people at protests, in the streets, and even in their own homes.
Duringdemocratic governments throughout the region and elsewhere have spoken out about the crackdown on peaceful expression and protest in Venezuela. It is urgent that they redouble multilateral pressure on the Venezuelan government to ensure it releases those who were arbitrarily arrested, drops charges in cases in which detainees were subject to politically-motivated prosecutions, and holds accountable those responsible for human rights violations.
If the Venezuelan government proves unable or unwilling to do so, they should push for "Radonski homosexual relationship" abroad. In 53 cases involving at least people documented in this report, detainees were Radonski homosexual relationship to physical and psychological abuse, with the apparent purpose of either punishing them or forcing them to incriminate themselves or others.
In some of these cases, the abuses suffered by detainees clearly constituted torture. In other cases, security forces Radonski homosexual relationship engaged in abuses that included detonating teargas canisters in closed environments where detainees were being held, holding detainees for prolonged periods of time with other detainees in small confinement cells, and denying them access to food or water or forcing them to eat raw pasta mixed with excrement or other food deliberately tainted with Radonski homosexual relationship ashes or insects.
Security agents have also denied or failed to provide access to medical treatment to some detainees who had preexisting medical conditions or suffered serious injuries during their arrest and subsequent detention—including being shot with pellets at very close range. This report describes in detail seven cases of detainees were tortured. These cases illustrate how far security agents have been willing and able to go to punish or intimidate detainees.
It also includes dozens of other cases where victims were subject to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment while in detention, including some that may also rise to the level of torture. Since early April, more than 5, people have been detained in the context of massive anti-government demonstrations in Venezuela, according to data gathered by the Penal Forum.
While those arrested included demonstrators, bystanders, and people filming demonstrations—as had happened during the suppression of protests in —this year saw an increase in the number of detentions carried out by intelligence or security agents in incidents completely unrelated to the protests. Those detained in such cases were opponents, including lesser known activists, or people whom the government claimed had links to the political opposition.
In some of these politically motivated prosecutions, detainees were taken away from homes or arrested hours or days after demonstrations in unrelated incidents. Often, detainees were not informed of the reasons for their arrests, and sometimes were not told who was detaining them. In some cases, the detentions were carried out by members of armed pro-government groups called colectivos, who then handed over detainees to security forces. During this period, security forces often harassed and threatened detainees, at times putting them in armored vehicles and detonating teargas canisters inside the vehicles, rubbing teargas powder on their faces, or subjecting them to heavy beatings.
Security agents and members of colectivos sometimes stole such personal belongings as money or cell phones from detainees during arrests. Many detainees were released without being brought before a judge, but thousands of others were subject to arbitrary prosecutions that lacked the most basic due process guarantees.
In addition to those who remain behind bars, according to the Penal Forum, 3, people are still subject to arbitrary criminal Radonski homosexual relationship and to precautionary measures that limit their freedom in different ways.
At least civilians were prosecuted by military courts, in violation of Venezuelan and international law. Others were brought before civilian courts without adequate access to lawyers or families to face prosecutions based on what they claimed was planted evidence. Dozens remained behind bars for periods of up to several months, despite having a judicial order for their unconditional release or a judicial order for their release on bail.
During the period covered by this report, Venezuelan security forces—including the GNB, the PNB, and state police forces—systematically used excessive force to suppress anti-government protests, often in situations where no use of force appeared to be justifiable. Security forces have used less-lethal weapons—such as water cannons, teargas, pellets—in ways that seemed deliberately intended to inflict painful injuries.