At a strategic consultation in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the National Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders adopted its 2024 Action Plan to enhance support for defenders amid shrinking civic space and heightened State focus on terrorism.
Ramirez’s colleague, FundaRedes director Javier Tarazona, has been arbitrarily detained since his arrest by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) in 2021. The FFM found that Tarazona had been subject to torture and that there has been political interference during his detention.
‘The renewal of the Mission is a clear signal to Caracas: authorities will not escape scrutiny for the violent and unrelenting crackdown on all forms of opposition, real or imagined,’ said Eleanor Openshaw, Programme Director for the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). ‘As the Mission continues to gather information, States and international civil society groups must keep up the pressure to ensure authorities are held accountable for each and every single violation documented by the Mission experts.’
With general elections scheduled to take place in 2024, rights groups expect the FFM might deter authorities from further escalating its campaign against opponents. ‘The FFM plays a key preventative role in making gross violations of civil and political rights visible,’ said Wanda Cedeño, coordinator of Voto Joven, a group aiming to strengthen democratic processes in Venezuela.
In its latest report, the FFM detailed how Venezuela’s security services, including the SEBIN, committed violations amounting to crimes against humanity acting on orders emanating directly from President Nicolás Maduro. According to Venezuelan NGO Centro para los Defensores y la Justicia, there were 50 attacks or security incidents involving human rights defenders in the country in July 2022 alone, marking a sharp increase.
On 11 October, States at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) will vote to renew 14 of the Human Right Council’s 47 seats, including 2 seats allotted for the Latin America and Caribbean States group. Despite the pattern of abuses brought to light by the FFM and the testimonies of countless activists and ordinary citizens, Venezuela, a sitting member of the Council, is running for reelection. We urge States to only elect countries that have a track record of upholding and defending human rights and of willful and sustained cooperation with the Council and other international human rights bodies.