Two members of the fire department detained over satirical video
A first, significant step to get Venezuela on the agenda of the #HRC Resolution passes calling for official report on hr situation in country. Given crisis in the country and HRC mandate, shame on those abstained or voted against. pic.twitter.com/9OxSQjRdlH— eleanor openshaw (@eleanoropenshaw) September 27, 2018
On 27th September 2018, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution expressing deep concerns about the human rights violations in the country and "urges the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council".Human rights organisations welcomed the "first resolution of the HRC ever to focus on Venezuela, a State that has put huge effort over the years into avoiding scrutiny at the international level, while actively seeking to weaken the UN human rights mechanisms". Human Rights Watch also said:
“The adoption of the resolution with a strong margin of support will enable the Human Rights Council to bring to light the tragedy unfolding in Venezuela and to press the Maduro government to address the abuses and humanitarian crisis it is responsible for.”
Vice Coordinadora General de AI Venezuela @MariannaRomeroM explica la importancia del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la @ONU_es y las implicaciones de sus recomendaciones y resoluciones para la garantía de #ddhh en los Estados #HablemosDDHH pic.twitter.com/ofFxrCoKxE— Marcos Gómez 🕯 (@GomezMarcos) October 23, 2018
Amnesty International published the report: This is no way to live, public security and right to life in Venezuela, where it stated that the State "has failed to guarantee the right to life in a context of violence between private individuals" and that responding to crime with repressive military methods has caused "serious human rights violations, in particular extrajudicial executions". The number of alleged extrajudicial executions has been on the rise in Venezuela between 2012 and 2016, reaching its peak in 2016 with 2.379 documented cases.
In a separate incident, the government's treatment of opposition leaders while in custody was on the spotlight after the death of councilman Fernando Albán on 9th October. On 4th October 2018, Albán was detained at the airport when arriving from New York where he held meetings in the context of the UN General Assembly. He was accused of participating in the attack against President Maduro on 4th August 2018 during a military parade. After 48 hours in detention, his body was found outside the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and the Government claimed he committed suicide. Alban’s relatives and leaders of the opposition rejected this explanation and demanded an independent investigation given that the results of the autopsy were not revealed. Local CSOs expressed their concern about the case and the "irregular conditions of detention and the anomalous situation that caused the death of Fernando Albán in a SEBIN facility, which have been known for being a place where detainees are subjected to torture and ill-treatment".
In another case, Lorent Saleh, an opposition activist who had been in detention for four years charged with several crimes such as disseminating false information that causes “anxiety” to the public, forging Venezuelan IDs for Colombians and participating in a conspiracy against the government, was released on 12th October 2018. Reports indicate that he was escorted to the airport and put on a flight to Madrid. Expecting outside the prison, waiting for his son to be released, Saleh's mother said:
"I didn't know anything about this. I thought he'd be turned over here, but what's important is that he's free."
#Ahora Marino Alvarado: Pedimos desde @_Provea que un organismo internacional venga a realizar la investigación por la muerte de Fernando Albán. Tenemos información de las torturas en el Dgcim. #18Oct pic.twitter.com/WsIkjD7rss— Efecto Cocuyo (@EfectoCocuyo) October 18, 2018
The Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social (Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict - OVCS) registered 894 protests throughout August 2018, a 20 percent increase compared to August 2017. 88 percent of the protests related to social, economic and environmental rights, specifically, labour rights which accounted for 347 of the protests. In September 2018, the organisation documented 983 protests.
The Federación de Asociaciones de Profesores Universitarios de Venezuela (Federation of Associations of University Professors of Venezuela - FAPUV) convened a 24-hour national strike of university professors on 9th October 2018 demanding a decent salary and proper infrastructure.
Entre enero y septiembre de 2018 se registraron 9.355 protestas en #Venezuela. La mayoría para exigir derechos de alimentación, salud, servicios públicos y demandas laborales. https://t.co/V7YM7ZSHRs #OVCS #Conflictividad2018 pic.twitter.com/VewIPPwauW— OVCS (@OVCSocial) October 22, 2018
The Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela (Institute of Press and Society of Venezuela - IPYS) conducted an investigation that identified a pattern of online censorship based on intermittent blocks suffered by news sites at specific times depending on the users' geographical location.
In September 2018 several freedom of expression violations occurred in Venezuela. On 10th September 2018, journalist Jefferson Civira was briefly detained by members of the Guardia Nacional (Military) while he was working on an investigative piece in a market. The authorities claimed that the area is "militarised" and therefore Civira could not work there. On 12th September 2018, police officers detained cameramen Edgar Hernández while he was filming in a metro station that had a heavy police presence. The authorities asked him if the videos were posted on social media and then they proceed to take his phone and delete the information.
The Telecommunication Commission (CONATEL) issued an order banning 4 journalists from publishing and disseminating information against the "honor and reputation" of Alex Nain Saab, who the journalists linked in a previous publication with a corruption scheme related to the government food distribution program.
On 12th September 2018, two members of the fire department, Carlos Julio Varón Gracia and Ricardo Antonio Prieto Parra, were detained for the publication of a satirical video where they compared President Maduro to a donkey. Gracia and Parra were charged with "incitement to hate."
Burlarte de Nicolás Maduro en las redes sociales puede costarte la libertad en Venezuela. Dos miembros del Cuerpo de Bomberos fueron detenidos y acusados de grabar este video. Ambos son civiles pero fueron detenidos por militares. pic.twitter.com/4Ah2wI0rVg— Daniel Blanco (@DanielBlancoPz) September 14, 2018