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Venezuela uses judicial system to suppress dissent, U.N. investigators say

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By Reuters

CARACAS – Venezuela’s judicial system has perpetuated human rights violations as part of a state policy to quash opposition to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, a group of United Nations investigators said on Thursday.

The report was published by an independent U.N. human rights fact-finding mission that in 2020 concluded Maduro’s government has committed systematic human rights violations amounting to crimes against humanity.

“The Mission has reasonable grounds to believe that judges and prosecutors in the cases examined have denied, as opposed to guaranteed, some rights to real or perceived government opponents, in response to interference from political actors or from within the judicial or prosecutorial hierarchy,” reads the report.

The investigators added they have grounds to believe judges and prosecutors fail to protect perceived enemies of the government from arbitrary arrest, deprive detainees of their right to defense, and use pre-trial detention as a routine measure rather than an exceptional one.

Maduro allies have described previous reports by the fact-finding mission as politically biased smear campaigns driven by Washington, which maintains a broad sanctions program meant to force Maduro from power.

Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.