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Venezuela accused of killings by UN chief

Venezuela appears to be continuing extrajudicial killings, according to the United Nations human rights chief who said the Special Action Forces presumed to be responsible had received support from the highest levels of government.

Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council that alongside possible executions, her office had documented cases of torture of soldiers and others arbitrarily held and urged the government of President Nicolas Maduro to punish perpetrators.

Ms Bachelet, who issued a report in July detailing witness accounts of death squads run by the FAES, said non-governmental organisation Monitor de Victimas (Victims’ Monitor) had found 57 new presumed executions by FAES members in Caracas that month. The government called her earlier report a “selective and openly partial vision” that ignored official information and relied on biased witnesses.

She has also expressed concern about US sanctions aimed at pressuring Mr Maduro to step down. On Monday she said they were among factors fuelling a mass exodus from the country, which is reeling from hyperinflation and a collapsing economy. Ms Bachelet said even though the sanctions envisaged exceptions for humanitarian assistance, over-caution by the financial sector, lower public revenues and a decrease in oil production were having a serious impact.

“All of this is contributing to the worsening of the humanitarian situation and the exodus of Venezuelans from the country,” noting that 4.3 million refugees and migrants had already fled the turmoil, most since 2015.

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