Tue. Apr 20th, 2021

The United Nations Special Rapporteur to Venezuela, Alena Douhan, has called on the United States to lift the blockade it imposed on the Country over the humanitarian crisis and violation of human right, especially government officials.

The UN had deploy, Douhan, who is a Professor of International Law and Director of the Peace Research Centre (Minsk), to Venezuela to conduct a first-hand investigation on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures as well as their result to violation of human right, which gave birth to a preliminary report.

The report by Dohan indicated that different sanctions on Venezuela includes recognizing that targeted and secondary sanctions is against the right to a fair trial, due process, freedom of movement, property rights and the rights to reputation which has violated the right of government officials to hold and express opinions as well as participate in public affairs.

Alex Saab, the  Venezuelan Diplomat to Iran was in July arrested in Cape Verde on the order of the United States and since been in detention.

Donald Trump led administration had requested that Saab be arrested and detained over allegations of money laundering, this was faulted by the Venezuelan government, noting that Saab is its special envoy on a humanitarian mission

The Venezuelan government also stated that Saab was on a trip to get food and medical supplied in Iran and he only stopped over in Cape Verde before security operatives arrested him.

Cape Verde government have continued to keep Saab in custody based on the instruction of US, despite the ruling by ECOWAS court and the call by different organizations including the African Bar Association. The US has continued to push his extradition.

The manner in which Saab was arrested is a repeat of a recent method to initiate detention and or deportation by a host country’s institution and stated in a report by Freedom House on The Global Scale and Scope of Transnational Repression. The US had held a Russiam National, Alexey Kharis for 15 months in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention, before Saab, after being arrested on the basis of a notice by interpol
Several governments have in the last two decades observed the red notice which was used in Saab’s case and other indications which provide a cheap and easy means of reaching exiles. Against the popular belief, Interpol is not an international police agency and does not possess the judicial function to state the authenticity of notice before they enter the system. It basically allows member states to be able to share notifications about wanted criminals or missing persons with one another.

The report also indicated another method obtainable in Saab’s case, which is the involvement of other countries. A notable part of the transnational repression toolkit hinges on involving other countries apparatus to detain, deport or provide individuals. 

A request for extradition or the submission of alleged “national security information” in an asylum case which led of detention opens up a space to have the target finally returned to the country. In cases where detention do not lead to the return of such individual, the target life is disrupted, they create stress and trauma as well as enforce acute financial penalties from losy work and legal fees or even intimidate the targets network

Saab has been held by Cape Verde government for eight months based on the request of the US government.

The US began the Unilateral Coercive Measures on Venezuela in 2005 when it introduced selective sanctions on individuals and entities who were alleged to be involved in drug trafficking after a declaration of President Huga Chávez that the culmination of all joint operations and military exchange with  the Pentagon, a measure that was not the linking of the US authorities.

Also in 2006, the US imposed another embargo because it thinks that government was not cooperating enough in anti-terrorists efforts.

Later, Barrack Obama in 2015, throught an Executive Order declared Venezuela an unusual and extraordinary threat to the US security. The executive order, Which was joined by six other countries, was issued by the Donald Trump-led govert as well. More measures to underrate the Venezuelan economy and the qualith of life of the population was also issued by US since 2017.

The report on the findings of the Special Rapporteur, however stated that the “coercive measures” against the country has aggravated the problems of the 
mono-oriented Venezuelan economy. 

The report noted that the income of the Ulisses Correia e Silva led Presidency has been reduced by 
99% and the country is currently living with 1% of its income prior to the sanctions, according to data from the Presidency.

It also stated further that the remittances from abroad have reduced due to the blocking of State assets and the complexity of bank transfers and the barriers to make them leading to an hyperinflation that has pulverized the salaries of public institutions in the last four years. 

While Describing the current state of infrastructure and basic services as appalling, the Rapporteur also noted that the scarcity of financial resources and the refusal of foreign companies to trade with Venezuelan public and often private institutions has led to a situation in which power lines can work today at less than 20% of their capacity and most public services have been depleted by 30% to 50% of their staff, including the best (doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, professors, judges, police, etc.), which has led to internal disorganization, an increased workload for the remaining staff, a reduction in services and a decrease in their quality. 

On the economic and humanitarian situation in the country, the Rapporteur stressed that impediments to food imports, which constitute more than 50% of national consumption, have in the past 6 years led to the steady growth of malnutrition, with more than 2.5 million people severely in food scarcity and the impediments to health care include lack of or severe unavailability of medicines and vaccines; increasing prices; electricity shortages to supply equipment; water shortages and sanitation problems affecting hygiene; deterioration of infrastructure due to poor 
maintenance, lack of spare parts, unavailability of new equipment due to lack of resources or refusal to sell or deliver them; degradation of working conditions and lack of protective equipment against infectious diseases; loss of staff in all medical areas due to low salaries; and completion of construction of hospitals and primary care centers.

The rapporteur dded that school and university education has faced a severe downward slide in government support since 2016, which also includes the cancellation or reduction of the supply of school uniforms, shoes, backpacks and office supplies; and the reduction in the number of daily school meals (from 2 to 1), the decrease in their quantity and diversity of food or their total cancellation.

She encouraged the government to keep upholding the cooperation with international organisations like UNDP, UNICEF, UNAIDS, PAHO, other international agencies, as well as with the church, the private sector and humanitarian NGOs that provide aid, facilitating some reconstruction of water systems and the supply of vaccines,  medicines, tests, reagents, school supplies and food. 

The coercive measures against the country does not correspond to the requirements of Art. 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, such as the existence of a threat to the life of the nation and the blockade on strategic sectors of the Venezuelan economy like oil, gold, 
mining, constitutes a violation of international law, according to her.

She added that the sanctions touches individuals in Venezuela and outside its territory, both in the public and private sectors; third-country nationals and employees of third-country companies affected by the secondary sanctions or by the fear of sanctions; donors and international humanitarian NGOs; beneficiaries of assistance from international 
organizations traditionally funded by Venezuela; while low-income people, women, children and people with special needs or with chronic or serious illnesses are the most affected with respect to the whole range of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development. 

She said that “The governments of the UK, Portugal and the US and the corresponding banks to unfreeze the assets of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) to acquire medicines, vaccines, food, medical and other equipment, spare parts and other essential goods to guarantee the humanitarian needs of the Venezuelan people and the reestablishment of public services in collaboration with the UNDP and other UN agencies and through agreed cooperation and supervision mechanisms.”

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