To crush dissent in Venezuela, the National Guard, the National Police and other law enforcement agencies and the socialist paramilitary known as "colectivos" violated human rights to instill fear, according to a United Nations investigation.
Without the opposition of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, security forces were allegedly responsible for at least 46 deaths, and the socialist armed groups known as "colectivos" were responsible for 27 deaths, according to the UN statement.
"Several thousand people have been arbitrarily detained, many reportedly subjected to ill treatment and even torture, while several hundred have been brought before military rather than civilian courts. And these patterns show no sign of abating," The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement released by UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.
Since the wave of anti-Maduro protests began in April, there has been a "widespread and systematic use" of excessive force, according to the observations of a group of human rights officers who conducted interviews from June 6 to July 31.
More than 5,051 Venezuelans have been arbitrarily detained, and more than 1,000 remain in detention, according to UN investigators. There were also reports of several cases of torture, violent and illegal house raids and the destruction of private property at the hands of authorities.
"Tactics used included electric shocks, beatings, including with helmets and sticks while handcuffed, hanging detainees by the wrists for long periods, suffocation with gas, threats of killings -- and in some cases threats of sexual violence against the detainees or their families," Hussein's statement said.
Hussein also warned that the responsibility for the violations of human rights that occurred amid the breakdown of the rule of law lies at the highest level of government. Shamdasani said UN investigators believed the government was showing no signs of stopping the abuses.