GENEVA / VENEZUELA

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ENGLISH 14-Jul-2017 00:02:58
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged the Government of Venezuela to let people take part in an unofficial referendum on the constitution and to guarantee people’s rights to freedom of expression. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / VENEZUELA
TRT: 2:58
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 14 JULY 2017 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1. Exterior, Palais des Nations
2. Wide shot, press briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, Spokesperson, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We note that a public consultation is due to take place this Sunday, organised by the opposition-led National Assembly and other groups, on questions including President Nicolas Maduro’s plans to rewrite the constitution. We urge authorities to respect the wishes of those who want to participate in this consultation and to guarantee people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”
4. Med shot, journalists
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, Spokesperson, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The number of injured individuals is however estimated to be much higher. It is vital that the Government takes steps to ensure that the security forces, including the Bolivarian National Guard and the Bolivarian National Police, do not use excessive force against demonstrators and that they operate in line with international human rights standards in managing demonstrations.”
6. Med shot, journalist
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, Spokesperson, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Thousands of demonstrators are reported to have been arbitrarily detained, and we are very concerned that more than 450 civilians have reportedly been brought before military tribunals. We urge the Government to immediately end this practice, which is against international human rights law, particularly due process guarantees. Civilians accused of a crime or an illegal act should appear before a civilian court. All those who have been arbitrarily detained should be released.”
8. Wide shot, press briefing room
9. SOUNDBITE (English) William Spindler, Spokesperson, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“Last year some 27,000 Venezuelans applied for asylum around the world. So far this year, over 52,000 have applied for asylum. So that is twice as many so far this year as in the whole of last year.”
10. Wide shot, journalists
11. SOUNDBITE (English) William Spindler, Spokesperson, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“Some of the challenges posed by this large influx of Venezuelans in neighbouring countries include international protection and physical security considerations, lack of documentation, sexual and gender-based violence, exploitation and abuse, and lack of access to basic rights and services. In certain areas, armoured groups and criminal gangs are exploiting the newly arrived Venezuelans as well as the local population.”
12. Close up, writing
13. SOUNDBITE (English) William Spindler, Spokesperson, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“In the case of Venezuelans, UNHCR’s position is that even those who have been rejected as refugees should not be sent back to Venezuela. This advice is on the whole followed by states. The reason why we are saying that even is somebody is not a refugee, the situation in Venezuela and we have this position regarding several other countries is such that by sending people back you are simply contributing to destabilise those countries.”
14. Various shots, journalists

STORYLINE:

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged the Government of Venezuela to let people take part in an unofficial referendum on the constitution and to guarantee people’s rights to freedom of expression.

Speaking today (14 Jul) reporters Geneva, Liz Throssell, an OHCHR’s Spokesperson said “we note that a public consultation is due to take place this Sunday, organised by the opposition-led National Assembly and other groups, on questions including President Nicolas Maduro’s plans to rewrite the constitution. We urge authorities to respect the wishes of those who want to participate in this consultation and to guarantee people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”

Since 1 April, some 92 people have died and over 1,500 have been injured – in connection with the ongoing protest, according to the latest available figures from the Attorney General’s Office.

However, OHCHR’s Throssel noted that “the number of injured individuals is however estimated to be much higher. It is vital that the Government takes steps to ensure that the security forces, including the Bolivarian National Guard and the Bolivarian National Police, do not use excessive force against demonstrators and that they operate in line with international human rights standards in managing demonstrations.”

According to reports that OHCHR has received from several sources, “some members of the Venezuelan security forces have used repressive tactics, intimidating and instilling fear, to try to deter people from demonstrating.”

Liz Throssel added that “thousands of demonstrators are reported to have been arbitrarily detained, and we are very concerned that more than 450 civilians have reportedly been brought before military tribunals”. She added that “we urge the Government to immediately end this practice, which is against international human rights law, particularly due process guarantees. Civilians accused of a crime or an illegal act should appear before a civilian court. All those who have been arbitrarily detained should be released.”

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is also concerned that as the situation in Venezuela continues, the number of asylum applications by citizens of that country has soared.

Also speaking to journalists, UNHCR’s spokesperson William Spindler said “last year some 27, 000 Venezuelans applied for asylum around the world. So far this year, over 52,000 have applied for asylum. So that is twice as many so far this year as in the whole of last year.”

Considering the evolving situation in Venezuela, it is projected that people will continue to leave the country. UNHCR is scaling up its response accordingly. Colombia, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago are some of the main countries where Venezuelans are fleeing.

Spindler said, “some of the challenges posed by this large influx of Venezuelans in neighbouring countries include international protection and physical security considerations, lack of documentation, sexual and gender-based violence, exploitation and abuse, and lack of access to basic rights and services. In certain areas, armoured groups and criminal gangs are exploiting the newly arrived Venezuelans as well as the local population.”

Due to a long standing tradition of solidarity in Latin America, Venezuelan citizens in neighbouring countries can benefit from various forms of temporary residence in those countries. However, long waiting periods and high application fees are responsible for the fact that many Venezuelans opt to remain in an irregular situation instead of using asylum or migratory procedures to regularize their stay.

UNHCR’s Spindler said “in the case of Venezuelans, UNHCR’s position is that even those who have been rejected as refugees should not be sent back to Venezuela. This advice is on the whole followed by states. The reason why we are saying that even is somebody is not a refugee, the situation in Venezuela and we have this position regarding several other countries is such that by sending people back you are simply contributing to destabilise those countries.”
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