OHCHR / VENEZUELA

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15-Jul-2020 00:02:43
UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif, presented a report to the Human Rights Council which found that “far-reaching reforms need to be implemented to enable the judiciary to effectively fulfill its role as guarantor of human rights, to contribute to accountability for human rights violations, and facilitate access to justice for victims.” OHCHR / UNTV CH

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STORY: OHCHR / VENEZUELA
TRT: 2:43
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 15 JULY 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations exterior

15 JULY 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Wide shot, conference room
3. Wide shot, dais
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The report elaborates on factors that undermine the independence of judges, such as conditions for appointment and tenure, lack of freedom of association and political pressure, including threats of dismissal. The report found that far-reaching reforms need to be implemented to enable the judiciary to effectively fulfill its role as guarantor of human rights, to contribute to accountability for human rights violations, and facilitate access to justice for victims. Effective protection for victims of human rights violations also needs to be reinforced to dispel fears of re-victimization and restore trust in the rule of law. Actions in these areas can contribute to addressing impunity, including for serious violations by security forces such as killings and human rights violations committed in the context of protests and security operations, and reports of torture and enforced disappearances.”
5. Wide shot, dais
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“According to firsthand accounts received by the Office, a large portion of mining activities remain under the control of organized crime or armed elements that impose their own rules through violence and extortion. The report highlights a pattern of labour exploitation, including child labour, and refers to reports of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. It also found that miners are required to give a large portion of the gold they extract to criminal and armed groups, subjected to long workdays in hazardous conditions, and being exposed to diseases including mercury contamination. Despite the considerable presence of military and security forces inside the Arco Minero region, and efforts to tackle criminal activity, authorities have yet to fully comply with their obligation under international law to investigate and sanction violations of human rights related to mining operations.”
7. Wide shot, dais
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The report puts forward targeted recommendations to the Government to address the range of human rights challenges documented. The Office reiterates its offer to continue to provide technical assistance to the authorities and to supporting efforts to improve the situation of human rights in Venezuela. “
9. Wide shot, conference room

STORYLINE:

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif, presented a report to the Human Rights Council which found that “far-reaching reforms need to be implemented to enable the judiciary to effectively fulfill its role as guarantor of human rights, to contribute to accountability for human rights violations, and facilitate access to justice for victims.”

The report examines broader justice issues in Venezuela and describes how the independence of the justice system has been considerably undermined by the insecurity of tenure of judges and prosecutors; the lack of transparency in the process of designation; precarious working conditions; and political interference.

Speaking in Geneva today (15 Jul), Al-Nashif said the report elaborates on factors that “undermine the independence of judges, such as conditions for appointment and tenure, lack of freedom of association and political pressure, including threats of dismissal.”

Decisions of the Supreme Court related to the opposition-controlled National Assembly have consistently given rise to concerns about political considerations prevailing over legal determinations.

The Deputy High Commissioner said, “Effective protection for victims of human rights violations also needs to be reinforced to dispel fears of re-victimization and restore trust in the rule of law. Actions in these areas can contribute to addressing impunity, including for serious violations by security forces such as killings and human rights violations committed in the context of protests and security operations, and reports of torture and enforced disappearances.”

The report highlights the continuing use of the military justice system for civilians, which should be and remain exceptional. Moreover, since 2018 anti-terrorism courts have increasingly been used to prosecute politically sensitive cases. The report also documents how insufficient resources have hindered the Public Defender’s capacity to adequately defend the people it represents, and that in some cases, defendants are not allowed to appoint their lawyers, leaving them without an effective legal defense.

People working in the Arco Minero del Orinoco region in Venezuela are caught up in a context of labour exploitation and high levels of violence by criminal groups that control the mines in the area, according to the report.

Al-Nashif said, “According to firsthand accounts received by the Office, a large portion of mining activities remain under the control of organized crime or armed elements that impose their own rules through violence and extortion. The report highlights a pattern of labour exploitation, including child labour, and refers to reports of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. It also found that miners are required to give a large portion of the gold they extract to criminal and armed groups, subjected to long workdays in hazardous conditions, and being exposed to diseases including mercury contamination.”

Due to lack of transparency on the information related to mining activities in the Arco Minero, the UN human rights office said it was not able to determine to what extent the Government has indeed managed to regularize mining activity and curb illegal mining.

The Deputy High Commissioner said, “Despite the considerable presence of military and security forces inside the Arco Minero region, and efforts to tackle criminal activity, authorities have yet to fully comply with their obligation under international law to investigate and sanction violations of human rights related to mining operations.”

The report noted that living conditions in the mining areas are appalling, with no running water, electricity or sanitation. Pools of stagnant and polluted water resulting from mining are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, leading to a rise of malaria cases in the region, affecting not only migrant workers but also indigenous communities.

Illegal mining also affects the enjoyment of the individual and collective rights of indigenous people, due to the destruction of their habitat and the lack of control over their traditional territories and natural resources, according to the report.

Al-Nashif said the report “puts forward targeted recommendations to the Government to address the range of human rights challenges documented. The Office reiterates its offer to continue to provide technical assistance to the authorities and to supporting efforts to improve the situation of human rights in Venezuela."
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