The Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights and Victims Assistance, Humberto Prado, spoke this Tuesday before the European Parliament of Human Rights, to present assessments on the recommendations made by the OHCHR on the country, after one year of the report issued in July 2019 by that office.
The commissioner began his participation by reiterating that the Presidential Commission for Human Rights presented a report on the situation of the FAES, whose extermination group has extrajudicially executed 972 people, from July 2019 until the present, when the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights visited Venezuela.
Prado explained that persons deprived of their liberty for political reasons should be released, referring to a group of deputies that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has itself requested the release. These include MEPs Gilbert Caro and Juan Requesens, as well as the head of the office of the President in charge, Roberto Marrero.
He denounced the continuous attack against human rights organizations in Venezuela such as Provea, “which has been attacked by the regime through the media.”
Prado assured that the Presidential Commission for Human Rights has registered and denounced attacks on journalists, whose profession he always describes as high risk. “Journalists cannot cover news about protests for access to water, health in hospitals and lack of food because they run the risk of being arrested, detained and simply charged with crimes in military courts.”
The Commissioner said that two very important bodies are usurped, “they are the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Ombudsman’s Office. The Prosecutor’s Office charges those who think differently and the Ombudsman’s Office does not stand on the side of the people’s defense”.
Regarding prisons, he said that the Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP) has recorded that since 1999 that 7,270 prisoners have died in Venezuela, and so far in 2020, more than 104 inmates have died, and 66 of them have died from malnutrition and tuberculosis.
He denounced that in Venezuela’s prisons there is more than 120% overcrowding. “In the police (stations) cells it is worse because there is 400% overcrowding. As far as services in the prisons are concerned, there are no doctors (…) The special cells are for a maximum of 48 hours, but they last there for up to 3 years and they must be fed by their own relatives, but instead of giving them food promptly, they give it to them in the afternoon and it is already decomposed and generates amebiasis”.
As for the deputies, he clarified that they are persecuted, “in my country the National Assembly elected by more than 14 million Venezuelans was evicted from the legislative palace. They don’t let the deputies go to legislature where they are supposed to”.
He said that at present, several people have shown up who say they are the leaders of the Venezuelan Parliament, but they do not have that quality.
“The deputies were elected, but they can’t enter the legislative palace, so they have to do the meetings via the Internet, clouding that particular right,” he said.
Regarding the situation of Venezuelans who decide to leave the country for economic, social and political reasons, the commissioner said that these human rights continue to be violated and there is no guarantee of justice. “We have more than 5 million Venezuelans outside the country who have been forced to leave because of the lack of adequate living conditions, and now that more than 40,000 of those Venezuelans are returning, they are stigmatized and their dignity is violated because they are considered biological weapons,” Prado said.
He explained that since the arrival of the Pandemic by the Covid-19, Venezuelans have been forced to return to the country by walking from Ecuador, Peru and Colombia, but upon arrival they are isolated in sentinel hospitals where they are not given food or water.
When questioned by MEP López, Prado stressed that human rights do not have political colors. They are of the right, and of the left.
Therefore, he issued four petitions, which examine the possibility of sponsoring one MEP in Venezuela for each MEP, to issue a public statement demanding that the recommendations of international protection bodies be complied with, especially regarding the protection of journalists and human rights defenders.
He also asked the European Parliament that the Human Rights Sub-Committee come to Venezuela so that they can see with their own eyes the detention centers such as the Tomb and the House of Dreams where people are tortured, “where they must even eat their own feces and vomit. That’s why I’m asking you to form a commission to come and see what’s happening in Venezuela. You have the legitimacy to do that,” he said.
Finally, he requested that a communication be issued, signed by the plenary of the European Parliament, and that it be sent to the office of the High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, to urge the dismantling of the FAES as a matter of urgency, “and simultaneously, demanding respect for the human rights of my family, my staff and especially all Venezuelans, including journalists and human rights defenders”.
Commissioner Prado thanked them for their participation and ended his speech before the European Parliament on July 7th, 2020, saying “Do not forget my country, Venezuela, the Members of Parliament have to legislate clandestinely, those who are legitimized and elected are persecuted. There is a serious situation regarding those who think differently because they are subjected to torture”.