Navy Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo
(Died as result of torture on June 29th, 2019)

In consequence of the assassination of Navy Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo in June 29th, 2019, the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, Michelle Bachelet, has stated yesterday (July 1st) her deeply concern not just for the assassination itself, but moreover the clear evidence shown of acts of torture conducted. 

The Navy Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo was subjected without judicial order, to an arbitrary arrest on June 21st by unidentified men and was held captive for 7 days in an unknown location, stated by his relatives and lawyers, as forced disappearance. We must remember that the date of the arrest coincides with the visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

On June 28th, he was presented before a military court by members of the country’s military counterintelligence forces (DGCIM) accused of planning an attack against the dictator Nicolas Maduro Moros. He was assigned a military lawyer of the State, violating the Right to Defense by not being able to count on a lawyer of his trust.

Relatives claim that Captain Acosta was presented to the judge in a wheelchair with visible marks of torture. Later, he was taken to the Military Hospital of Caracas where he died on June 29th.

The systematic pattern of torture, abuse of power and oppression to any form of opposition in Maduro´s regime, has created a system which functions under a pillar of impunity. Such pillar massifies acts of torture and aggravates them. Without any form of direct repercussion to the perpetrators generated or influenced by the international community, the impunity in domestic terms, increments exponentially. The acts of torture and general violation of human rights to the Venezuelan people are sharpened and increased day by day.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office attenuates the participation of the officials involved in these crimes, distorting the facts and distracting the direct repercussions of the perpetrators and the acquiescence of a visible military chain of command that operates to carry out the abuse of power of the dictatorship of Maduro Moros, in its different forms and methods. In this way, the de facto power in Venezuela is structured to attack the dissent, obstruct justice and guarantee impunity in domestically. The acts of torture and general violation of human rights to the Venezuelan people are sharpened and increased day by day.

There have been various requests for the body of Capt. Acosta from family members and lawyers, but none of them have been addressed. 

All investigations most be directed to the Right to the Truth. The detention of the officials who committed such acts of torture will not eliminate the pillar of impunity. As stated, there is an ascendant chain of command which needs to be held responsible for the acts of the perpetrators.  In the field of Crimes Against Humanity, there is the so-called “responsibility of command”, which holds responsible civil and military authorities who have omitted their duty to impart the necessary instructions to prevent crimes of this nature. 

The Human Rights Institute for Peace and Freedom makes a call for the International Criminal Court´s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, and for all international community, to address the situation and demand a proper and transparent investigation according to international standards.