United Nations slams Venezuela on 'excessive force' as tensions rise

United Nations slams Venezuela on 'excessive force' as tensions rise

There was no immediate reaction from Venezuela's leftist government to the scathing criticism from the United Nations, which said preliminary findings from an investigation conducted in June and July "paint a picture of widespread and systematic use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions against demonstrators in Venezuela".

Ramon Muchacho, the mayor of the upscale Caracas municipality of Chacao, was one of a group of opposition mayors who had been threatened with arrest for failing to prevent street protests in their jurisdictions.

TRT World's Sara Firth has this report.

"It should be clear: We arrived there to help President Nicolas Maduro, but also to create strong bases for the construction of Bolivarian and Chavista socialism", Diosdado Cabello, a leader of the ruling socialist party and member of the new assembly, told a crowd of supporters Monday.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement: "These violations have occurred amid the breakdown of the rule of law in Venezuela, with constant attacks by the Government against the National Assembly and the Attorney-General's Office".

"The responsibility for the human rights violations we are recording lies at the highest levels of government", he said.

The UN investigation revealed instances of security forces using tear gas on protestors, deaths among protestors, and over five-thousand detentions. "More than 1,000 reportedly remain in detention", the United Nations statement said.

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Sunday's raid on the army base in Valencia, the country's third largest city, heightened fears that Venezuela's crisis could tip into some form of armed conflict.

"There are indications of growing discontent in the middle ranks of the police and soldiers, even though military commanders remain allied to the government", said Diego Moya-Ocampos, of IHS Markit Country Risk in London. A representative said in an interview that he was a Venezuelan national but declined to give specifics about the group or his location.

His next action could be to deprive of parliamentary immunity of certain opposition mps to send them to jail.

Maduro has promised the assembly will bring peace to the country, and help end an acute economic crisis marked by shortages of food and other basic goods, but the opposition says it is aimed at consolidating a dictatorship.

The sanctions place locks on any assets the individuals might have in the United States, and bans any US Americans or American companies, including banks with US offices, from doing business with them.

The crackdown on the opposition following last month's widely questioned vote to elect the constitutional assembly is likely to dominate a meeting in Peru on Tuesday where foreign ministers from more than a dozen Latin American governments were gathering to discuss how to force Maduro to back down.

He says people can be tempted to violence when they feel their electoral and constitutional options are closed - a situation the opposition says is developing in Venezuela.

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