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U.N. decries ‘executions’ by Venezuelan security forces

AFP-Jiji GENEVA (AFP-Jiji) — Nearly 7,000 people have been killed during security operations in Venezuela in the past year and a half, the United Nations said Thursday, warning that many of the killings likely constituted “executions.”

In a fresh report, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the Venezuelan government had registered at least 6,856 killed in alleged confrontations with state forces since the beginning of 2018.

“The incidence of alleged extrajudicial killings by security forces ... has been shockingly high,” Bachelet’s office said in a statement.

Last year, the government registered 5,287 killings, purportedly for “resistance to authority” during such operations. Between Jan. 1 and May 19 this year, another 1,569 similar killings were registered, according to the report.

The numbers were provided by the Venezuelan government to the U.N. rights office in response to a request made following a visit to the country by a technical team in March, spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told AFP, adding this was the first time the United Nations had published the figures.

The U.N. rights chief, who herself visited Venezuela last month, warned in her report that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that many of these killings constitute extrajudicial executions committed by the security forces.”

The report, which Bachelet was to present to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday, especially pointed a finger at Venezuela’s police special forces (FAES).

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) “is concerned that the authorities may be using FAES, and possibly other security forces, as part of a policy of social control,” the report said.

“These killings warrant immediate investigation to ensure accountability of perpetrators and guarantees of non-recurrence,” the report said, urging Caracas to “dissolve FAES.”

And Bachelet called on the government to “establish an impartial and independent national mechanism, with the support of the international community, to investigate extrajudicial executions during security operations, ensure accountability of perpetrators and redress for victims.”

Thursday’s report also decried a wide range of other grave rights violations in Venezuela, which is caught in an economic crisis and a political standoff between President Nicolas Maduro’s government and National Assembly leader Juan Guaido.Speech

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