[JURIST] Venezuelan security forces have abused and unlawfully detained protesters, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report [text, PDF; press release] released Monday. The rights group launched its investigation following a demonstration in February where three protesters were killed [BBC report] by Venezuelan security forces. In its investigation of the ongoing abuse of protesters, HRW found 45 cases with strong evidence of human rights violations. The report documented numerous abuses of protesters including use of excessive force, unlawful detention, and torture:
In most of the cases we documented, security forces employed unlawful force, including shooting and severely beating unarmed individuals. Nearly all of the victims were also arrested and, while in detention, subjected to physical and psychological abuse. In at least 10 cases, the abuses clearly constituted torture.The report acknowledged that some protesters have also engaged in violent behavior, including throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at security forces. HRW encouraged Venezuelan authorities to investigate all allegations of violence and bring those responsible to justice.
Recent violence in Venezuela has been a subject of international concern in recent months. In March a group of UN independent experts asked Venezuela's government answer to allegations of abuse [JURIST report] against journalists, media workers and demonstrators during the country's recent protests. This request came only a week after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned the recent political violence [JURIST report] in Venezuela and urged all parties involved to move towards meaningful dialogue in hopes of resolving the situation. In February the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on all parties involved in the protests to open dialogue to resolve the situation [JURIST report] in response to the death of three protesters earlier that week. Such violent demonstrations have been partially motivated by Venezuela's current economic difficulties [BBC backgrounder]. In September Venezuela withdrew [JURIST report] from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights despite criticism from activists and calls by the UN [JURIST report] for the country to remain a member.