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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 19 -- The Unilateral Coercive Measures (UCM) adopted by the United States government and the European Union (EU) against Venezuela had caused "devastating effect" on the Venezuelan civilian population, said the Venezuelan government, citing a United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur for Human Rights report.
According to a press statement issued by Venezuela's Embassy in Malaysia, Special Rapporteur of the UN Alena Douhan who had visited Venezuela from Feb 1 to 12 had also reported that the UCM had significantly affected "the broad scope of human rights, especially the right to food, the right to health, the right to life, the right to education and the right to development”.
Her preliminary report was published on Feb 12 on the website of office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“In her preliminary report, the United Nations Special Rapporteur has stated that "unilateral sanctions increasingly imposed by the United States, the European Union and other countries have exacerbated the problems," said the statement, made available to Bernama.
It added that as part of the work methodology to collect the information, the UN rapporteur carried out numerous inspections and meetings with various sectors of the country's political, economic and social life, including government authorities and members of all public powers, representatives of the entire spectrum of political parties and unions; national and international humanitarian organisations; from the private sector; of the Catholic Church and non-governmental actors.
“The findings and conclusions derived from this visit will form part of the final report, which will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2021; and it is worth saying, that they mostly coincide with what Venezuela has been denouncing in all international forums in recent years.
“The preliminary report reveals how important social projects developed by the Bolivarian Revolution since 2000 have been affected in the areas of housing, education, food, electricity and water services, healthcare, and community development, among others,” the statement added.
According to the statement, this impact reached a special harshness as of 2019, when the United States imposed a generalised blockade against Venezuela, which substantially impacted the oil industry, the main source of external resources, which led the country to survive with just one per cent of revenues prior to sanctions.
The statement said the UCM have caused serious distortions and problems in the Venezuelan economy, including: high inflation, lower wages, growth in poverty, impact on public health services (which in Venezuela are totally free), forced migration for economic reasons of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, with a high percentage of professionals and technicians, deterioration of the public services of electricity supply and drinking water.
“It is important to say that in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UCM and the blockade decreed against Venezuela in the international financial system constitute an even more perverse crime.
Currently, the illegal freezing of Venezuelan assets in banks in the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, Portugal and other countries, amounts to more than US$6 billion.
Referring to the customary norms on the immunity of State property, the Special Rapporteur affirmed:
“The freezing of the assets of the Central Bank of Venezuela for not recognising its Government, as well as the adoption of the pertinent sanctions, violates the rights of the country and prevents its duty to guarantee the needs of the population”.
Douhan added that “the repeated refusals of the banks of the United States, United Kingdom and Portugal to release Venezuelan assets even for the purchase of medicines, vaccines and protection kits, under the control of international organisations” violate the principle of sovereign equality of the States.
For this reason, the UN report urges the countries involved and the corresponding banks to unfreeze the assets of the Venezuelan State.
It added that the UCM was a generalised and systematic attack, not a sporadic action, but a sustained conduct, which not only violates the Charter of the United Nations and the international legal framework, but also has an adverse impact on the enjoyment of human rights, both civil as well as economic, social and cultural, which is accentuated in the global context of Covid-19.
In this regard, the Special Rapporteur maintains in her report that “the state of national emergency announced by the United States Government on March 8, 2015 as the basis for introducing sanctions against Venezuela, and repeatedly extended, does not correspond to the requirements of Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”.
And she adds: “The unilateral sanctions against the oil, gold, mining and other economic sectors, the state airline and the television industry constitute a violation of international law, and their illegality with reference to countermeasures is not excluded.
The UN Special Rapporteur in her report also underlined the inadmissibility of applying sanctions extra-territorially and urges the United States government “to put an end to the national emergency in relation to Venezuela, review and lift sector sanctions against the public sector of Venezuela, review and lift secondary sanctions against third States”.
She further called on all States to "review and lift selective sanctions in accordance with the principles of international law, the rule of law, and human rights."