Venezuelan NGOs Disavow Maduro Government’s Human Rights Initiatives

Hugo Pérez Hernáiz

Venezuela’s main non-governmental human rights organizations have issues a joint press release criticizing the government’s recent human rights initiatives.

The document represents an escalation in the disagreements between independent NGOs and the government. If up to now most Venezuelan NGOs had been critical of the government’s human rights initiatives, they had also expressed their willingness to participate in them. But now the signing NGOs finish their document stating that they will “abstain from participating in any initiative that promotes discrimination, based on ideology or any other motive, especially if such initiative claims a false human rights discourse as a source of legitimacy.”

According to the document, the three main human rights initiatives put forth by the Maduro government–the creation of the National Council of Human Rights in 2014, the National Human Rights Plan of 2015, and the government sponsored Truth Commission created this year to look into the 2014 protests–all share a strong pro-government bias by using words such as “fascists” and “terrorist acts” to qualify opposition protests, and by being staffed by political leaders close to the government.

The NGOs say that all three initiatives “fail to meet international human rights standards and principles, are not independent, and will institutionalize discrimination as a state policy under the discourse of ‘human rights.’”

Rafael Uzcátegui, General Coordinator of PROVEA, one of the organizations signing the statement, told this blog that for the signing organizations it is important to clearly state why they will abstain from participating in these government human rights initiatives, since the Venezuelan State will most likely present them as accomplishments of its human rights policies in this year’s periodic exam by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights.