• Press Release

Venezuela must respond for deadly security operation

January 17, 2018

Members of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) patrol Caracas as an operation to capture Oscar Perez, the Venezuelan helicopter pilot who dropped grenades on the Supreme Court last year during anti-government protests, is carried out on January 15, 2018. Several people, including two police officers, were killed in an operation to capture Oscar Perez, A ministry statement said members of a "terrorist cell" were killed, and five were arrested in the operation, but did not say whether the pilot, was among the dead or detained. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
The operation by security forces to arrest the former CICPC (Scientific Investigation Police) official Óscar Pérez and others who had risen against the government, appears to be illegal and raise multiple concerns of grave human rights violations and even crimes under international law, said Amnesty International.

According to official information, on January 15, in the community of El Junquito in Miranda state, Venezuela, a security operation resulted in at least nine people killed and another five injured. This is just the latest example of the lethal use of force being used in policing operations, resulting already in thousands of victims throughout the country.

During the operation, officials used a military-grade weapon which is unlikely to give any chance of survival. In addition, the use of this weapon endangered the lives of people in the vicinity.

“It is imperative that the Venezuelan government ensure that there is a prompt, impartial, independent and exhaustive investigation by civilian authorities into the intentionally lethal use of force in this operation, and prove that this was not a case of extrajudicial execution,” stated Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Other serious allegations that have been published in the media include people not belonging to the security forces participating in the operation, and the denial of information to the relatives of the people who were killed. Amnesty International has also received serious allegations that the deceased will be cremated without the authorization of their relatives and without necessary investigative measures having been undertaken.

“Although the facts have not yet been established, the authorities are advancing justifications about what happened in the security operation. Tragically, this is not the first time that the Venezuelan authorities justify the lethal use of force simply on the basis of allegations of ‘criminal activities,’ disregarding the rule of law,” said Erika Guevara Rosas

Under international law, it is not permissible in law enforcement operations to resort to intentionally lethal use of force against those who do not present a serious and imminent threat. Authorities must therefore take all possible precautions to prevent those killings and, if that is not possible, to refrain from resorting to lethal force.