On 17 September 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Dolors Montserrat and Leopoldo López Gil of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell:
“The UN has accused Maduro’s Government of crimes against humanity.
According to UN investigators, the Venezuelan regime is responsible for carrying out or supporting such crimes, which, far from being isolated incidents, have been coordinated and committed in accordance with State policies.
The report concludes that extra-judicial killings, kidnappings, arbitrary detentions and torture have all taken place.
These crimes are unacceptable and it is the EU’s duty to expose and condemn them. As such:
1. Does the Commission publicly condemn these acts? What new sanctions does the EU intend to impose on Maduro’s totalitarian regime?
2. What is the situation of European citizens who are political prisoners under the Venezuelan regime? Has the EU demanded their immediate release?
3. Given this new information, does the EU believe that free and democratic elections can be held in Venezuela?”
On 29 January 2021, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The European Union (EU) has expressed its support for the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN HCHR) and the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM) in Venezuela, and called for their unfettered access to carry out their mandates.
The EU has also expressed deep concern about the serious and repeated human rights violations reported by both bodies, to which the High Representative/Vice-President referred during his interventions before the European Parliament and in the context of the recent ministerial meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela.
The EU has funded the UN HCHR office in Caracas and has supported the extension of the IFFM mandate, and is ready to assist the UN HCHR in efforts to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Venezuela.
The EU adopted restrictive measures in view of the situation in Venezuela in November 2017 with the aim of fostering a peaceful, political and democratic solution, through credible, transparent and internationally monitored presidential elections, leading to the restoration of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
In November 2020, the sanctions regime was renewed for another year in light of the persistent actions undermining democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Currently 36 natural persons are listed under the sanctions regime. Any decision on additional listings falls within the remit of the Council.
The conditions have not been yet met for a credible, inclusive and transparent electoral process in Venezuela. There can be no unilateral solution to the situation in Venezuela: the way forward is through incremental progress and dialogue.
One of the key steps to improving the situation is the release of all political prisoners, which the EU has repeatedly called for, including during the European External Action Service mission to Caracas that took place in September 2020, and will continue to do so.”
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