Following the government's announcement that it has asked staff to leave the country within 72 hours, the Office of the High Commissioner says it is assessing next steps and is continuing discussions with the authorities and other actors

UN Human Rights Regrets Venezuela's Decision to Suspend Operations

Noticias ONU - Caracas, capital de Venezuela.
UN News - Caracas, capital of Venezuela

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regretted the announcement by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil to suspend the agency's activities and his request for staff to leave the country within 72 hours. 

  1. Detention of activist Rocio San Miguel 
  2. Work of the Technical Office 

Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said they are evaluating next steps. "We continue to engage with the authorities and other actors. Our guiding principles have been and will continue to be the promotion and protection of the human rights of Venezuelans," she added.

On Tuesday, the office posted on X (formerly Twitter) that it was following "with deep concern" the detention of human rights defender Rocío San Miguel. "Her whereabouts remain unknown, which could qualify her detention as an enforced disappearance". It also called for her immediate release and for her right to legal defence to be respected. 

Prior to the Venezuelan authorities' announcement on Thursday, the Office said in X that it noted that the place of Rocío San Miguel's detention (and therefore her whereabouts) had been confirmed and that four family members had been conditionally released. "Procedural guarantees must be respected, including the right to a defence," they added. 

Detention of activist Rocio San Miguel 

On Tuesday, the International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela* expressed its deep concern about the situation of human rights defender Rocío San Miguel, who was detained by the Venezuelan authorities on Friday 9 February.    

The Mission said in a statement that Venezuelan security forces detained Rocío San Miguel, president of the organisation Control Ciudadano, "when she was trying to board a flight with her daughter at the Simón Bolívar international airport".    

"The attorney general accused San Miguel of participating in an attempted conspiracy against President Nicolás Maduro and other high-ranking officials, as well as of being involved in attacks against military units and other institutions across the country. San Miguel, her daughter and four other persons are unaccounted for," the Mission said.   

The president of the Fact-Finding Mission, Marta Valiñas, specified that the Venezuelan government should provide information on the whereabouts not only of San Miguel and his daughter, "but of all the detainees whose places of detention are still unknown".    

"It is incumbent on the government to refrain from using repressive measures contrary to its obligations under international human rights law and international criminal law," Valiñas added. 

Work of the Technical Office 

Since October 2019, the Technical Office of the High Commissioner provides technical assistance and monitors the human rights situation in the country with the aim of preventing the recurrence of human rights violations; increasing the implementation of recommendations issued by international mechanisms; strengthening the rule of law and accountability; raising awareness and increasing the visibility of violations of economic and social rights; and protecting and enhancing democratic space. 

*In September 2019, the UN Human Rights Council established the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela through resolution 42/25 for one year to assess alleged human rights violations committed since 2014. The Human Rights Council, by resolutions 45/20 and 51/29, extended the mandate of the International Mission for a further two years, until September 2024. The Mission will present an oral update to the Human Rights Council in March 2024 with an update on its investigations, and will present its report at a dialogue session of the Council in September 2024. 

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