Leer en Español
The UN Independent International Mission for Venezuela accused the civilian and military of that country (the Sebin and the DGCIM, respectively) of committing crimes against humanity, through abusive methods dictated “from the highest level.”
The president of the mission, the Portuguese Marta Valiñas, presented today before the UN Human Rights Council a report on human rights violations in Venezuela committed by both the Sebin (acronym of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) and the DGCIM (General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence).
“Both agencies committed human rights violations that constitute crimes against humanity, and these include torture and other ill-treatment, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary detentions, and short-term enforced disappearances,” he stressed to the 47-member UN Council.
The report was already published and presented at a press conference last week, and it documented at least 77 cases of torture and abuse of detainees in the Boleíta and other military undercover— of the DGCIM, as well as 51 in the Helicoide and other Sebin detention centers.
“Both the Sebin and the DGCIM used sexual and gender violence against the detainees, through electric shocks and blows to their genitals, rapes or threats of rapes, with the purpose of intimidating and humiliating them,” Valiñas stressed.
The head of mission denied that the crimes were committed by isolated individuals with no connection to the hierarchies since the intelligence bodies “are part of a machinery designed and deployed for the execution of a government plan aimed at repressing those it perceives as its opponents.”
This plan was orchestrated “from the highest political level,” Valiñas stressed.
The expert did not cite names in her appearance before the Council. However, the report points to the Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro, as ultimately responsible for the abuses and cites the first VP of the ruling PSUV party Diosdado Cabello, for his significant influence, at least in the Sebin.
The document also points to the current director general of the Sebin, Gustavo Enrique González, the director of the Helicoide (the main detention center) between 2014 and 2018, Carlos Alberto Calderón, and his number two in that period, Ronny González.
In the case of the DGCIM, the general director Iván Rafael Hernández is mentioned, as well as former heads of different levels of the agency: Rafael Antonio Franco, Hannover Esteban Guerrero, and Alexander Enrique Granko.
“We have reasonable grounds to believe that these people are responsible for these acts and should be investigated,” Valiñas said.
According to the UN mission, completed by Chilean Francisco Cox and Argentine Patricia Tapattá, human rights violations by both agencies continue to this day under “a climate of total impunity.”
Valiñas denounced today that on the same day the report was published, September 20, Sebin officials showed up at the headquarters of Provea, a human rights organization in Venezuela, while relatives of detained trade unionists were holding a press conference demanding justice.
In addition to this report, the mission presented today another one on human rights violations in southern Venezuela, particularly in the state of Bolivar, following the creation in 2016 of the Orinoco Mining Arc in response to the crisis in the national oil industry.
This has been accompanied by the region’s militarization, with the armed forces and government leaders involved in gold exploitation.
“Armed criminal groups, including the so-called unions, operate openly controlling mining areas and even populations,” Valiñas noted.
This second report highlights that state and non-state actors often have at odds with each other and have committed crimes and human rights violations, including killings, forced disappearances, extortion, corporal punishment, and sexual and gender-based violence.