A UN report presented today says that since the start of 2018 more than 6,800 people have been killed by Venezuelan security forces while resisting arrest. The report cites interviews with hundreds of victims’ relatives and concludes that Venezuelan police are staging crime scenes and using torture against political opponents. From the BBC:

Its most damning findings relate to the number of deaths the Venezuelan government has ascribed to resisting arrest.

That figure for last year was 5,287, with another 1,569 up to 19 May this year.

Referring to these figures as “unusually” and “shockingly” high, the report says: “Information analysed by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights suggests many of these killings may constitute extrajudicial executions.”

The UN says witnesses reported how the Special Action Forces (FAES) “manipulated the crime scene and evidence. They would plant arms and drugs and fire their weapons against the walls or in the air to suggest a confrontation and to show the victim had ‘resisted authority'”.

It adds that the UN “is concerned the authorities may be using FAES and other security forces as an instrument to instil fear in the population and to maintain social control”…

On accusations of torture it says detainees have been subjected to “one or more forms of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including electric shocks, suffocation with plastic bags, water boarding, beatings, sexual violence, water and food deprivation, stress positions and exposure to extreme temperatures”.

Back in February, a report from Reuters alleged that the National Police’s Special Action Force (FAES) was targeting protesters based on tips from government loyalists. The FAES would show up in the slums, pull people out of their homes and shoot them dead. Venezuela claimed these were efforts to round up gang members, but none of these cases ever ended in a trial. The victims are simply shot, often in the street. Why in the street? Because FAES wants everyone in the neighborhood to know what happens to those who oppose the government.

Maduro’s regime has issued an 11-page response to the UN report. The response takes issue with the idea there is a humanitarian crisis in the country and instead claims its problems are the result of economic sanctions by the US. There is a site which offers a communist take on what is happening in Venezuela called Venezuela Analysis. So far, the site hasn’t published a story about the UN report but it’s coming.

Of course, having the UN issue a report about what is happening won’t change things for victims of the Maduro regime. The only thing it will do is provide a further signal to the media that what is happening there is not simply an economic collapse but a violent dictatorship holding onto power by any means necessary.