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UN Experts Report Surge in Enforced Disappearances in Venezuela Ahead of Presidential Election

In a concerning development, UN experts have reported a significant increase in enforced disappearances in Venezuela, particularly targeting members of the opposition and the military as the nation approaches its presidential election in July 2024. This trend could potentially intimidate voters and interfere with the electoral process. According to Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances expressed alarm over the rising cases of citizens being detained without legal procedures or external communication. “These prolonged incommunicado detentions amount to enforced disappearances,” the experts stated, highlighting a pattern of detentions by state authorities where individuals are taken to recognized facilities and denied basic rights such as contact with the outside world and access to legal assistance. The Working Group emphasized that enforced disappearances constitute a severe violation of human rights, affecting not only the detained
individuals but also their families who are left without information and face potential reprisals when seeking answers. “The fundamental rights of the relatives of the disappeared person are also being violated,” they added, underlining the state’s responsibility to provide accurate information promptly to the families and legal representatives of the detained. The experts called on the Venezuelan government to take decisive actions to prevent and eliminate all acts of enforced disappearances, to clarify the fate of those already detained, and to ensure legal protections are upheld, including the right to legal counsel and court appearances. The Working Group also offered to provide technical cooperation and assistance to the Venezuelan authorities to help ensure that the rights of detained individuals and their families are respected and that all cases of enforced disappearance are thoroughly investigated in accordance with international human rights standards.