Pulling out the nails and teeth, or the use of electric shocks, are some of the methods that are being used against political prisoners in Venezuela, according to a report released this Wednesday by the CASLA Institute, a study center for Latin America, and the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington.
This is the sixth report of its kind that the CASLA Institute presents to the OAS with the aim of denouncing crimes against humanity that occur in Venezuela. The institute claims to have had confidential access to the Operations Manual of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM). In this, according to what was said in the presentation, the way in which the alleged torture is carried out is detailed.
“In this, evidence is presented about the torments that Venezuelans are subjected to every day to sustain the Maduro dictatorship,” said Hector Schamis, advisor to the OAS Secretary General.
Tamara Suju, executive director of the CASLA Institute, assured during the presentation that the torture cells located in the sub-basement of the main headquarters of the DGCIM in Boleíta de Caracas “have been activated again to physically and psychologically torture those who are in that place.” . The objective, as she said, “is to punish them incommunicado, isolate them completely from noise and light, and that their screams are not heard.”
“In 2022, the list of political prisoners increased with the arrests of trade unionists, soldiers, political parties, militants, journalists, and civilians that the regime accuses of conspiracy,” Suju said.
The CASLA Institute documented in the report 19 new incidents where the victims were subjected to crimes against humanity. “In three incidents, the victims reported having been taken to different detention centers or clandestine torture centers with other people, but without knowing the exact number because they were all hooded,” added Suju.
Among the torture methods described by victims to the CASLA Institute, it was also found cutting the soles of the feet with knives, whipping with whips, belts or electric cables, drowning in natural water wells, facial fractures and hanging.
“In those narrated as the cruelest, which are not those that leave a physical mark but are described by the victims as the most painful, are the threats of arrest, detention or simulation of having their relatives detained,” said Suju. In at least nine incidents, the victims were threatened while being questioned.
A report of the OAS General Secretariat and a panel of independent international experts on the possible commission of crimes against humanity in Venezuela, revealed that from 2013 to 2018, more than 12,000 people “were arbitrarily detained” in the context of protests and demonstrations against the Venezuelan government,
At that time, the panel also received information on at least 289 cases of torture and 192 cases of rape of persons under state control and a number of forced disappearances.
“The President of the Republic has the absolute responsibility for the induction and execution of the persecution, intimidation, repression, arbitrary arrests, torture in all its forms against all Venezuelans, including officers of the Armed Forces and other security organizations. ”, Suju sentenced during her presentation.
The most recent report of the International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela (FFM) concluded that high-ranking individuals in the chain of command of the Venezuelan intelligence services committed “crimes against humanity”accuses Maduro of leading plans to repress dissent and describes torture methods implemented in the DGCIM cells.
On several occasions, the Venezuelan State has condemned the accusations against it. Specifically, regarding that last report from the FFM, whose mandate was renewed by the UN Human Rights Council, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs assured that it presents “false and baseless accusations.”
Findings on the actions of foreign officials
In six incidents, according to the victims’ accounts in the report, they narrated how foreign agents intervened in their torture, either by issuing orders or executing. “In four of them, the victims identified people with a Colombian accent whom the DGCIM handed over, for example, simulating a sale of hostages,” described the executive director of CASLA.
In one incident, the victim recognized the officials who tortured him as Colombians and Cubans, and in three incidents the victim directly involved Cuban agents in carrying out the mistreatment.
“There are patterns of conduct between Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. They are copies, the dictatorial regimes of Latin America seem like brothers,” added Suju. “That structure is the one that is currently armed in Venezuela. Anyone who goes out to demonstrate already knows the regime where he lives, who the wife is, who the children are, what they are going to do.
Suju concluded that the sanctions imposed by the international community on the three countries condemning the deprivation of liberty of opposition members “have been very important”, however, in the case of Venezuela “Maduro has managed to outwit them”.
International pressure has to focus on justice. If there is something that Maduro fears, it is justice.”
“International pressure has to focus on justice. If there is something that Maduro fears, it is justice, it is going to jail, it is that they do not allow him to make the trips that he does, it is that they do not lock him up inside Venezuela and he cannot leave ”.
In 2021, the prosecution of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced its decision to open a formal investigation into Venezuela for alleged crimes against humanity and signed a memorandum of understanding with the State based on the principle of positive complementarity established in the Rome Statute. .
At the end of last year, the ICC prosecutor’s office asked the Preliminary Questions Chamber for authorization to resume the investigation for alleged crimes against humanity, under article 18 (2) of the Rome Statute, which was rejected by the government of Maduro who requested a postponement of the investigation.
The Venezuelan State rejected the prosecutor’s decision, arguing that “it has provided ample and sufficient information that demonstrates how, through the competent institutions, the country is investigating or has investigated alleged crimes against human rights in order to determine the truth and clarify, if applicable, the competent criminal responsibilities.”
After a meeting with the High Commissioner of the Office for Human Rights of the United Nations Organization (OHCHR), Volker Türk, Maduro assured that he had ratified to the High Commissioner his “commitment to the defense of human rights” and his willingness to “advance in the improvement of the justice system.
Türk, that during his official visit to Caracas last month he said he had heard reports of people detained “arbitrarily” who, in some cases, were “tortured”, he claimed to have asked Maduro and his ministers to release all those people detained arbitrarily.
“I was promised that complaints of torture would be addressed, investigated and those responsible brought to justice. I encouraged the authorities to take decisive action to put an end to torture once and for all,” he told a news conference before ending his Visit end of January.
Source: VOA Español