Castro, Wasserman Schultz, Salazar, And Waltz Reintroduce Bipartisan Effort to Protect Human Rights in Venezuela
WASHINGTON – This week, Reps. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), co-chair of the Congressional Venezuela Democracy Caucus, Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and Michael Waltz (FL-06), reintroduced the bipartisan, bicameral AFFECT Human Rights in Venezuela Act. This legislation aims to hold the Maduro regime accountable for their human rights violations while providing support for the millions of Venezuelans suffering from political and economic crisis. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) are leading companion legislation in the Senate.
“Under Nicolás Maduro’s autocratic rule, millions of Venezuelans have fled from state-sponsored human rights abuses, political chaos, and catastrophic economic decline,” said Rep. Castro, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “Continued U.S. support for the U.N.’s Fact Finding Mission will expose the regime’s crimes, hold the perpetrators accountable, and provide humanitarian aid to those currently suffering while working to prevent future suffering through a peaceful, democratic transfer of power.”
“Venezuelans have endured a decade of suffering under Nicolás Maduro, whose assault on democracy and human rights have precipitated a refugee crisis second only to Ukraine in the 21st century,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz, co-chair of the Congressional Venezuela Democracy Caucus. “The U.S. can’t solve this problem alone. But it’s imperative that we coordinate with international partners to improve conditions on the ground and advocate for the release of political prisoners while ensuring accountability to lay the groundwork for a future democratic transition.”
“My Venezuelan constituents in Miami know the abuses the Maduro regime carries out against the people it claims to represent,” said Rep. Salazar, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “We must ensure the international community knows the truth about the failure of socialism of the 21st century, to help the Venezuelan people restore freedom and democracy in their home country and to prevent it from ever happening again.”
“For a decade, Nicolas Maduro has used his corrupt regime to carry out human rights abuses against the Venezuelan people and destabilize the region.” said Rep. Waltz. “We must continue to urge the international community to condemn Maduro’s actions and support freedom in Venezuela.”
In 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Council initiated an Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Venezuela to investigate reports of human rights violations by the Maduro regime. Recent FFM findings have noted widespread fear of detention and torture by the government, arbitrary detention on political grounds, violations of due process, and other state-sponsored human rights violations. The AFFECT Human Rights in Venezuela Act would support the extension of FFM’s mandate until democracy and the rule of law are restored.
The AFFECT Human Rights in Venezuela Act would:
- Support extending the UN Fact-Finding Mission’s (FFM) investigation until democracy and the rule of law are restored, free elections are held, and humanitarian assistance can be freely delivered.
- Offer technical and investigatory assistance to the FFM while requesting early warnings of future threats to human rights and democratic institutions in Venezuela.
- Work alongside UN Special Envoys and Rapporteurs in negotiating the release of political prisoners and wrongfully detained Americans.
- Urge other nations to contribute to existing UN appeals that aim to support access to food, medicine, and electricity but face a persistent resource gap.
- Enhance the scope of UN programs that fund NGOs in Venezuela and provide critical services to those who reside in the country, while independent humanitarian entities from present or future restrictions imposed by the Maduro regime.
- Ensure that multilateral humanitarian assistance is delivered directly to Venezuelans, including refugees and migrants in third countries, without being channeled through the regime.
- Preserve access for free press, humanitarian actors, and credible international legal entities, such as future fact-finding missions and criminal proceedings.
The full text can be found here.
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