During its most recent report, the UN’s Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela showed how Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship has organized a system of persecution and intimidation against political dissidence.
“The Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) has the objective of identifying political dissidents and human rights activists, as well as other men and women who are perceived as contrary to the Government, while the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) is aimed at military personnel and associated civilians allegedly involved in rebellions or coup attempts,” revealed the report released this Thursday in Geneva.
Similarly, the report pointed out that the men and women detained were usually held in poor conditions, outside the official prison system, at the agencies’ headquarters in Caracas or in unofficial ‘safe houses’.
In some cases, victims were accused of bogus crimes, the evidence was planted, and due process was flouted.
They also added that the detentions in some cases amounted to short-term enforced disappearances and included torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including acts of sexual violence, either to obtain confessions or as punishment. A former director of SEBIN told the Mission that the institution had a ‘cultural behavior’ of torture.
The torture techniques included: stress positions, suffocation, beatings, electric shocks, cuts and mutilations, death threats and psychological torture.
“The intelligence organizations also subjected the dissidents, both men and women, to sexual violence, including rape with body parts or objects and threats of rape against the detained person or their loved ones, forced nudity, as well as beatings and electric shocks to the genitals. These acts of sexual violence also constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” said Mr. Francisco Cox.
Former Navy Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo died after being tortured in the custody of the DGCIM and at least two other people have also died in the custody of the SEBIN.
“These arbitrary arrests, short-term disappearances and torture were directed against the civilian population as part of a policy to silence opposition to Maduro’s government,” added Cox.
Finally, he clarified that commanders, including high-level authorities within SEBIN and DGCIM, were fully aware of this pattern of crimes, which often occurred in the same buildings where they worked.
“The Mission has registered the names of more than 45 SEBIN and DGCIM officials directly responsible for their investigation and prosecution,” he concluded.