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The Complex Humanitarian Emergency and its consequences for human rights in Venezuela was a relevant issue at the UPR

HumVenezuela, February 4th, 2022

During the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, the Humanitarian Crisis affecting Venezuela since 2016 was mentioned 14 times.

Despite the efforts of the Venezuelan government to camouflage the Complex Humanitarian Emergency that Venezuela has been suffering since 2016, during the 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR), 14 countries recommended Venezuela to guarantee conditions of access, effectiveness and security for the humanitarian response. Facilitating these conditions is an imperative obligation of the Venezuelan State to address this crisis that has triggered the forced migration of more than six million people, mostly in poverty and fleeing the country even by foot, without money and sometimes with just what they are wearing.

However, in the national report presented by the Venezuelan State and in the oral statement of its representatives before the UPR, the widespread and serious humanitarian situation was omitted and the United Nations coordination mechanism, installed in the country since 2019, to offer a humanitarian response to the affected populations, was not mentioned. Despite the lack of recognition of the emergency by the State, the reviewing countries incorporated the issue into their recommendations, specifying concrete measures summarized below:

  • Intensify efforts and increase the effectiveness of the humanitarian plan to address the ongoing emergency.
  • Ensure that the humanitarian plan can be developed in accordance with its principles and reach the populations and people in need.
  • Work alongside humanitarian organizations and international agencies on the humanitarian plan.
  • Allow for the expansion of the operations of humanitarian organizations such as the World Food Programme and a secure environment for their work.
  • Allow humanitarian organizations to operate without restrictions or fear of threats, reprisals, persecution, arbitrary imprisonment and limitations.
  • To create a safe and non-discriminatory environment for humanitarian organizations, ensuring the safety of people working in this area.
  • Promote equitable participation in political and public affairs to overcome the current political and humanitarian crisis.
  • Put an immediate end to the interference, persecution and criminalization of humanitarian and health-care workers.
Ph: Daniel Hernandez

Discrimination in the social protection policies of the State was also mentioned in the context of the emergency, and this is reflected in the recommendation to “Implement measures aimed at ensuring equal access to social assistance programs and investigate complaints of discrimination in access to them” and to “adopt the necessary measures to ensure equal access to social protection programmes”. As a manifestation of the impacts of the emergency, the recommendations on social rights were also relevant due to the lack of access to health in the health system, medicines, sexual and reproductive health, food, education, water and sanitation, and an adequate standard of living. Reference was made to women, children and teenagers, persons with disabilities, people deprived of liberty, LGBTI community, indigenous people and persons without health or medicine.

In attention to the complexity of the Venezuelan crisis, it was also recommended measures to correct the lack of independence of the judicial system, put an end to the significant restrictions on civil society and the threat of closure of civic space, stop arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings, the eradication of violence and gender inequality, and human trafficking, to meet the pressing needs of the people who have migrated, cease violations of the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and university autonomy; as well as resume political dialogue, negotiation and guarantee free and fair elections.

There were numerous recommendations in order to support the Human Rights Council mechanisms to address the multidimensional crisis in the country (political, economic, social and humanitarian), as well as the investigation of serious human rights violations. Specifically, it was recommended the need to work and expand cooperation with the team of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and to establish an OHCHR country office, allow access for the Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela (FFM) and the visits of the Special Rapporteurs.

On June 2022 it will be the closing session to evaluate the results of the UPR and it is up to the Venezuelan State to express its reasoned position of acceptance or annotation of the recommendations. OHCHR —which, among all the mechanisms activated in Venezuela, was the most mentioned during the session— has the job to follow-up and assist the government in the implementation of the recommendations. The UN Resident Coordinator in Venezuela and Humanitarian Coordinator, Gianluca Rampolla, announced that his team of @ONUVenezuela agrees to be with the government and all sectors of civil society in order to implement the recommendations that emerged from the 3rd cycle of the UPR in Geneva in favor of human rights in Venezuela.