Venezuela's state security agencies repress oppositions through arbitrary arrests, torture -UN

Credit: REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

Sept 20 (Reuters) - Venezuela's state security agencies use arbitrary arrests and torture, which represent crimes against humanity, to repress the country's opposition in a plan directed by President Nicolas Maduro, according to a United Nations report published on Tuesday.

The report, produced by the U.N. independent international fact-finding mission on Venezuela, found that both Venezuela's general office of military counterintelligence (DGCIM) and the Bolivarian national intelligence service (SEBIN), used sexual- and gender-based violence to torture and humiliate detainees since at least 2014, and continue to do so.

The findings were based on 471 interviews with victims, their family members and legal representatives, as well as at least 50 people who previously worked for the DGCIM, SEBIN or other government entities.

Venezuela's ministry of communication did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Real or perceived government opponents and their relatives were subjected to unlawful detention, followed by acts of torture," the report said.

Detainees were subject to being beaten with blunt and sharp objects, electric shocks, and force-feeding of feces and vomit, it added.

Various sources, including former high-ranking employees of the DGCIM and the armed forces, with direct knowledge of how such decisions were made, reported that Maduro relayed the orders to the DGCIM's director, General Ivan Hernandez Dala, via telephone.

Detainees included military officers deemed risky due to the respect they commanded and others suspected of taking part in attempted coups, as well as opposition politicians, social activists, and advocacy-group employees.

Witnesses told the fact-finding mission that activities by the SEBIN and DGCIM are intended to dissuade others from opposing the ruling party, the report said.

The fact-finding mission also reported that human rights violations are also taking place in key areas for mining as the government seeks to boost its income.

"In the country’s southern Bolivar state (...) state and non-state actors have committed a range of violations and crimes against local populations in gold mining areas," it said.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera; writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by Jonathan Oatis )

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