Human Rights and Crimes Against Humanity in Venezuela

Venezuela is facing a severe human rights crisis, marked by widespread and systematic violations and crimes committed by the Nicolás Maduro government and its security forces. These include extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture, persecution of political opponents, and repression of protests. The government has also failed to address the humanitarian emergency that affects millions of people who lack access to basic health care, nutrition, and water. The lack of judicial independence and the erosion of democratic institutions have contributed to impunity for these abuses.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation in November 2021 into possible crimes against humanity in Venezuela, following a report by the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) that identified patterns of violations and crimes that amounted to crimes against humanity. The ICC investigation covers the period from April 2017 to the present and focuses on the conduct of state agents and colectivos (pro-government armed groups).

One of the emblematic cases that illustrates the gravity of the human rights situation in Venezuela is that of Rocío San Miguel, a prominent lawyer and activist who is the president of Control Ciudadano, a civil society organization that monitors security and defense issues in Venezuela. San Miguel was arrested on February 9, 2024, along with her family, by security agents who raided her home without a warrant. She was accused of being part of a plot to assassinate Maduro, without any evidence. She was held incommunicado for four days in El Helicoide, a notorious detention center where torture and ill-treatment are rampant. She was denied access to her lawyers and family, and her health condition deteriorated. Her case has sparked national and international outrage and condemnation, as well as calls for her immediate and unconditional release.