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26 February 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced concern over new reports of violence and loss of life in Venezuela, and expressed support for regional dialogue to help the country overcome its current challenges.
In a statement, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the Secretary-General had taken note of the Government’s stated willingness to undertake a full investigation.
According to media reports a 14-year old boy was shot during a protest in the western city of San Cristóbal.
In addition, the spokesperson added, Mr. Ban had also taken note of the call by the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States for “the building of a democratic space for dialogue in Venezuela.”
In October 2014, opposition leader Leopoldo López and more than 69 other people were arrested following mass public protests throughout the country, prompting the condemnation of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
According to information received by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), over 3,300 people, including minors, were detained for brief periods between February and June 2014, and more than 150 cases of ill-treatment, many of them torture, were reported. At least 43 people were killed during the protests, including one public prosecutor and nine members of the security forces. Journalists and human rights defenders have also reported threats, attacks and intimidation.
The spokesperson today underscored that the Secretary-General supported the current efforts of the Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to re-launch the dialogue between the Government and members of the opposition, initiated in April 2014 and supported by UNASUR and the Holy See, in order “to help the country overcome its current challenges and guarantee the human rights of all Venezuelans.”
“In this connection,” the statement concluded, “[Mr. Ban] welcomes the UNASUR Secretary General’s announcement of an upcoming visit to Venezuela by a delegation of UNASUR Foreign Ministers.”