According to a U.N. report, Venezuelan security forces committed fewer extra-judicial murders during the period April through April. However, it said that they were still accused of continuing to torture or cruelly treat individuals and enforced disappearances.

The U.N. High Commission for Human Rights has called on President Nicolas Maduro’s government to stop using excessive force during demonstrations, disarm pro-government armed civil groups, and ensure independent and effective investigations into all deaths by security forces.

The report covers the period from June 1, 2020 to April 30, 2020. It states that accountability is essential for preventing and rectifying human rights violations, and strengthening the rule and law. Protecting and expanding civic space is essential to strengthen democracy, foster inclusive dialogue, and address the root causes of current problems.

Maduro’s government released a statement denying the “fallacious contents” of the report. The U.N. agency was accused of basing the report on “a few alleged allegations of violations of human rights” in an effort to destabilize Venezuela.

The Foreign Ministry statement stated that “This Report is the result of Resolution promoted by a small group of governments in serious internal circumstances of human rights violations, who conspired for the satisfaction of the policy of regime change’ promoted by the United States of America towards Venezuela.”

The U.N. agency recorded 17 deaths allegedly related to security forces. 16 occurred during security operations in areas with high crime and violence rates, and one during protests. The numbers of extra-judicial killings occurred in the past years were not included in this report.

According to the report, in most cases the murderers broke into the homes and apartments of victims who were mostly young men or boys from poor communities.

Witnesses claimed that officers threatened them with death and beat them. According to the report, officers allegedly altered evidence and took bodies from victims’ homes.

The report stated that “the events continue to have severe consequences in communities as they instilled terror in the population, generated fear in law enforcement, further marginalized and caused displacement.”

The agency also records nine cases of people whose whereabouts were not known to their family or lawyers during detentions. According to the agency, it also received reports that officers threatened with rape, beat, electrocute, and sexually violated people.

According to the agency, it was not aware of any actions taken by National Commission Against Torture. This arm of Ombudsman’s Office is led by government officials. Critics claim that the Ombudsman’s Office is a systemic omission when human rights violations are being reported.

This report recognizes that Maduro ordered a police reform in April. It also outlines the training of security forces for human rights and force use. According to the U.N. agency, Maduro stated that he wanted this reform implemented in six months. It also provides an opportunity for strengthening oversight and vetting security forces. However, reforms proposed for Venezuela are not always implemented.

Maduro’s government is accused of continuing to restrict freedom, including by preventing civil organizations from working and the media using regulatory and administrative actions that include criminal prosecution. Nearly 100 incidents were logged by the agency in relation to journalists, human rights activists, union leaders, and others. This includes six killings and six other violent acts.

Javier Tarazona (director of FundaRedes in Venezuela) was detained on Friday after reporting to authorities that he had been subjected to harassment by national intelligence officers. Two other activists were also taken into custody.

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According to U.N., sanctions are contributing to Venezuela’s problems. This is due to Venezuela’s deep political, economic, and social crisis. It was also a result of plummeting oil prices, and two decades of poor management by socialist governments. It has been in recession since years. Millions of people live in poverty due to high food prices, low wages, and hyperinflation.

The United States government placed severe sanctions on Maduro under President Donald Trump. These restrictions made it impossible for Venezuela to export, transport or develop its oil — its backbone economy. Sanctions have also been imposed by the European Union.