By Gladylis Flores.
The Commission for Human Rights and Citizenship in the Bolivar state, border to Brazil, reported 208 potentially deaths committed by police officers during 2020. The data gets collected by its media monitoring.
And the law enforcement agency tasked with criminal and judicial investigations is reportedly the top responsible in the case of these suspected extrajudicial executions: The Investigation Police (Cicpc in Spanish). The controversial Faes corps of the National Police is second.
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“23 of them were cases of persons deprived of liberty (prisoners), while the other 185 died in alleged confrontations reported in the media,” the organization indicated in its annual report.
The NGO pointed out that the municipality with the highest number of victims is Caroni with 103 extrajudicial executions, followed by Heres with 47 deaths and finally Sifontes, in the south of the state, with 20. Gold mining is one of the main activities in most of the Bolivar states.
The Scientific and Investigations Police (Cicpc) is the police institution with the highest number of reported cases, with 61 deaths. It gets followed by the Special Action Forces (Faes) with 33 deaths. Then, the National Guard and the Bolivar State Police with 17 and 14 deaths each.
The NGO said extrajudicial executions are violations of the right to a life consecrated in the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999. Venezuela was the first country in the Western Hemisphere to officially end capital punishment in the mid-19th Century, shortly after gaining independence from Imperial Spain.
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“As violations to the right to life can occur by action or omission, the State is obliged to investigate any death occurring in suspicious circumstances,” the organization said in its document.
Residents of communities in Ciudad Bolivar told El Pitazo that the right to due process gets violated in most cases of extrajudicial executions. In the Las Beatrice’s sector of the capital city, they refrain from denouncing a criminal for fear that the security forces will not carry out the proper procedure and execute the suspect -very often also a wayward member of the community- instead.
“Before, we used to denounce the thugs who stole around here, but the idea is to look for them and take them to jail, not to kill them as if they were animals. Many are caught asleep at home, we know they are not saints, but it is not the way to kill them. That is why we have not denounced anymore. We do not want them to be killed. We want them to be imprisoned”, explained a neighbor to El Pitazo that preferred not to identify himself for fear of reprisals.