19 de septiembre de 2019
The Regional Report of the Monitor on the use of lethal force in Latin America was recently released , on the occasion of the same #SonDerechos, a radio program of Provea by Fe y Alegría, interviewed Keymer Ávila, Researcher at the Institute of Sciences on Thursday, September 5 Penalties of the UCV, advisor and also collaborator of Provea, who is responsible for the Venezuela chapter of this important initiative. Next, the entire interview:
Eduardo Torres (ET) : With Keymer Ávila we will be talking about citizen security and Human Rights, as well as about the reports of the use of lethal force in Venezuela and various countries in Latin America. A researcher with a recognized track record at our university and in our country, I am very happy here at Son Derechos to have his presence.
KA : Good afternoon, Eduardo, thank you very much for Provea’s invitation to share the main findings of this work in which researchers from five countries in the region coincide: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico and Venezuela. In which we try to agree on common methodologies and sources to carry out a comparative study on the use of lethal force in our countries, the results of which can be found on the page of the “Monitor on the Use of Lethal Force in Latin America “ .
ET : What are the Keymer realities that you found when doing this important comparative study between these countries and Venezuela?
KA : When one studies from a comparative perspective, it is common to try to fall into a “negative patriotism” thinking that all the worst happens only in our country and that we are “the champions” in the worst figures. In order not to fall into this, it is important to build common indicators, with objective criteria.
One of the first general conclusions of this report was the problem of access to information and its quality, one of the countries with the greatest opacity was Mexico, followed by Venezuela, in these cases some indicators from both countries we had to supplement them with press information. The second major conclusion is that all the countries, except Colombia, whose official information is also questionable, presented figures that were above the standards we had estimated, so it can be assessed that there is an excessive and abusive use of force.
In the case of Venezuela, we verified information, conclusions from our previous investigations, where one of them was recently published this year in Provea, which has the title: ” Use of public force and right to life in Venezuela.””, where we do a more extensive analysis, we give context, we have a historical perspective and we collect various data there. The recent report on the use of lethal force in Venezuela can somehow be considered as a continuation of the work we did this year with Provea. In this case, for the Monitor on the Use of Lethal Force, we built indicators of the use and abuse of force. lethal to be able to compare it with other countries in the region. What we saw? For example, when talking about Venezuela, it is important to take into account that from the regulatory point of view, from the constitutional, legal point of view, in terms of manuals and action protocols, we can be a reference in the region, that is, from the level of “should be” our policy design and laws have as core the protection of the right to life,the problem is that none of this applies . When we review the reports of extrajudicial executions , we can see that at least during the last 40 or 50 years they have been common in our country. However, as of 2013, a more rapid and abrupt increase in this type of complaint can be seen. Thus, for example, in 2010 the rate of deaths at the hands of the State security force was 2.3, six years later it reached 19, an increase of more than 700%, it can be affirmed that between 2010 and in 2018 – these data are updated with the figures from the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – at least 23,688 people have died at the hands of the security forces, 69% of these cases have occurred during the last three years.
Regarding the task of preparing indicators, official information was always prioritized, most of these indicators are based on the information provided by the State authorities, in very exceptional cases when this did not exist, it was complemented with a base of registration data of cases that appeared in the news, this is our own database that we contrasted with the information from the chapter on the “Right to Life” of Provea and with that of the “Victims Monitor” that monitors the Metropolitan Area of Caracas, this database can be considered as a joint work in collaboration with Provea and with the Victims Monitor.
ET : In other words, since 2013 the problem of lethal force on the part of security organizations has worsened, now, how does Keymer affect the use of that force, the increase in that lethal force with respect to the institutions of the State, to the deterioration of the institutionality, if the element such as the loss of the Rule of Law, the decrease, the increasingly accelerated restrictions against freedoms, is there a relationship with that indicator?
KA : Yes, without a doubt the increase in deaths at the hands of the State security forces can be considered as an indicator of a process of precariousness and institutional deterioration that is not from now, it has been going on for decades, that is, what we are experiencing It is the result of a process that has been in the country for many years and has accelerated in recent periods. Even not only did it increase in 2013, but in 2015 and 2016 it presented overwhelming jumps and this is closely related to campaigns of militarized police operations such as those of the OLP , or from 2017 on with the support of an agency such as the Special Action Forces of the Bolivarian National Police .
I would like to share with you which were the indicators that we built in the regional group, we have as two great indicators, the first are of “incidence” and the second are of “abuses”. The incidence indicators have to do with the intensity in the use of force, there we see the magnitude of the violence exerted by the police, but also the violence suffered by the security forces. Undoubtedly, the police profession is a high-risk job and police officers also have vulnerabilities, so in these first indicators we see absolute numbers and also the proportions that police violence and violence against the police have in a country. What were the figures for the case of Venezuela? for the year 2017 – it is an official information that the Minister of the Interior gave at the end of that year – about 4. represents a rate of 15.9 people killed by the intervention of the public force for every 100,000 inhabitants, this number is higher than the homicide rate of most countries, to see the proportions, the country that follows Venezuela is El Salvador with a rate of 6.8, and far behind is Brazil with a rate of 2.3.
Another rate that we obtained is that of civilian deaths per thousand security agents and in this case, the positions between the countries are also somehow preserved, the rate for Venezuela was 28.6 and El Salvador is far behind with a rate of 9.9, followed by Brazil of 7.8. Afterwards, we evaluated the violence against the police, the officials who were victims of homicide, this has as its background a couple of works that we have done with cases from 2013 in the Metropolitan Area of Caracas and with cases from 2016 for the entire country , for 2017 we have some 157 civil servants victims of homicides of these only 157, that is, 36% were in the exercise of their functions (…)This ratifies the results of previous investigations, we see the same trends in 2017, this number of deceased officials gave us a rate of 0.3 officials per thousand agents, similar to that presented by Colombia, lower than that of Mexico and higher than that of Brazil and El Salvador.
Now we are going to explain the indicators that for a Human Rights organization are of special interest, these are the indicators of abuse, with these we try to measure in a set of cases if it is possible to appreciate, determine, detect patterns of excessive or abusive use of force, this has to do, in very simple words, with the proportionality in the use of lethal force. The first of these is the percentage that these deaths at the hands of State security forces represent within the total number of homicides in a country. For the year 2017, deaths at the hands of State security forces represent 26% of all homicides. homicides in Venezuela, that is, one in four homicides is a consequence of the intervention of the public force of the State, but in 2018 these figures worsened. We can see this in the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, this percentage rose to 33%, that is, that 1 out of every 3 homicides that occur in the country is due to the intervention of the security force. To get an idea of the proportions, a percentage greater than 10% is already an indicator of excessive use of lethal force, so much so that El Salvador, which is the closest country, has a percentage of 10.3 and Brazil 7.3.
Following the methodology agreed upon by the research group, we also obtained the proportion between deceased civilians and deceased agents, to assess the proportionality to see how many civilians die for each deceased agent. In the case of Venezuela, for each deceased official, 26 civilians die. To get an idea of the proportions, a famous work by Chevigny states that the deaths of more than 10 civilians for each security official indicate “that lethal force was used for other than the preservation of one’s own life in situations of extreme risk”, and is a clear indicator of an abusive use of lethal force. This was one of the few indicators that we elaborated with the database of cases registered in the news, therefore we can only compare it with Mexico, that used the same source and the same methodology, in their case it gave them a figure of 4.6. Both are very far from exorbitant figures such as those of El Salvador, which gave it 101.8; or that of Brazil with 57.7. These last two countries did have official information.
ET : Keymer, Venezuela is going through a complex humanitarian emergency and suffering, the pain of the population is intense, not only due to problems such as medicine, such as food, most of Human Rights are being violated, the right to life is established in the Constitution in its article 43 as inviolable, but according to these data it is a human right that is being greatly violated.
KA : Although there is a whole discussion of the non-hierarchical arrangement of rights, if a State can end life without any type of consequence, it can do anything else. That is to say, if the State can take life with total impunity from there, anything cascades down. It cannot impress us, if the security forces can kill with total impunity, that later they rob, extort, loot houses as has been denounced so much, or that they do not attend to social and economic rights is something that is predictable.
ET : Look, to take a specific example, we have the FAES, this Force for Special Actions of the PNB, and the Bachelet report. When Dr. Bachelet came, she met with the victims at the Metropolitan University, many meetings with defenders, with victims. The meeting with the victims was very emotional, very dramatic and in our opinion it was an element for the report by Dr. Bachelet to be so forceful, in that report she demands that the Maduro government eliminate the FAES, what is supposed to be It’s the FAES, what are they trained for and what’s up with that suggestion by Dr. Bachelet in her report?
KA : The FAES is a tactical group, a special group, the special groups have a predominantly military formation, they are a kind of rescue group for officials, when officials find themselves in extreme situations where they are outgunned, where they are outnumbered in capacities and means, when they are in situations of difficult access, when they are being attacked with weapons that surpass them, these special forces come in to rescue them, to support them. They are trained for extreme and exceptional situations, it is the expression of the extreme use of lethal force.
ET : And briefly to resume and are they acting within that framework?, to go to the cut and continue.
KA : The problem is when the exception becomes the rule .
ET : We leave this topic about the patterns of the PNB Special Forces of the FAES group, what is the pattern that has been repeated in the popular sectors and how was it addressed in this study on the use of lethal force in various countries of Latin America?
KA : I want to return to the initial question that has to do with the recommendations of the High Commissioner, we had already commented that it is a tactical group, what is its nature and that its intervention is of an exceptional nature, consequently this exception should not become the rule, because that exception has a warlike logic, a military logic, a high-impact intervention logic. The problem arises when this type of group begins to act on a regular basis as we are currently seeing, which translates the logic of war into daily life, where anyone can be executed or anyone can be the victim of the use of lethal force.
You were asking me about the elimination of this body, the elimination of the FAES is important, but it is not enough. In 2009 the Metropolitan Police was eliminated and a new police force emerged, the FAES is a division of this new police force, which is the National Police. It is important to bear in mind that whenever one speaks of the FAES one is speaking of the Bolivarian National Police and when one is speaking of the Bolivarian National Police one is speaking of the National Executive Branch, there is a clear line of command, the problem is not only suppress a body, the problem has to do with your initial question, with the strengthening of institutions. Here there must be an Ombudsman that exercises its role and that is independent and autonomous, there must be a Public Ministry, an Attorney General that exercises its role independently and autonomously, there must be courts, there is a whole series of external controls of the police forces that have to do their job. Because a police force can be eliminated and the next day a similar one is created with another name, with the same performance and with an institutional inability to exercise control over them, then the issue is not only from the symbolic point of view -which is not unimportant to eliminate a body – has to do with the institutional construction of internal controls and also the series of institutional external controls that have to exist and be functional.
ET : Of course! And that the other element also has to do with Keymer and the police model, that is, what is needed in Venezuela so that this vicious circle does not continue to repeat itself? As you say, the issue is the FAES, but then what are those values, what is that training that is needed in the country to get out of this vicious circle of lethal force against the Venezuelan population?
KA : It is important to keep in mind that the FAES is just the tip of the iceberg , let me explain, the problems of deaths in the hands of the State security force cannot be attributed entirely to the Special Actions Force or the PNB In the studies that we have carried out, which are on the Provea page, especially the one entitled ” Use of public force and the right to life in Venezuela ” that we published this year with you, there is responsibility for the police force , the police force traditionally deadliest since the last 40 years is the CICPC, the investigative body has approximately 40% of the cases, the one that follows it is the PNB, there within is the FAES, which in the same year that it was created can see an increase of 10% in its lethality; In third place would be the National Guard and the State Police. Why do I mention this? Because the FAES acquired a great media presence, especially because of the events at the beginning of this year , but also because of the spectacularity and cruelty with which it acts, but it is not the only body, sometimes unintentionally by concentrating on a single body , in a single phenomenon, we can inadvertently end up making invisible the total magnitude of institutional violence in the country.
The issue of the police model, we have -as we mentioned at the beginning- an extraordinary police model from the point of view of policy design , that is published in everything that CONAREPOL produced, it is normatively embodied in the Organic Law of the Police Service. Police and the Bolivarian National Police Corps, unfortunately that is a “dead letter”, that is not fulfilled. On behalf of the communities, the civil organizations, the NGOs, we have to demand that this model become a reality because unfortunately the political elites are not interested in the police model, the Executive dismantles it through militarized police operations, through the promotion of politics like the OLP, through the promotion of bodies like the FAES, butWhen the opposition reached the Legislative Branch, one of the first acts it did was to try to repeal the Organic Law of the Police Service, one of the “few things” that have been done well in recent years.
ET : Interesting reflection, Keymer, we are not just going to point to a body. I wanted to give an example to listen to your analysis that has to do with the factors of power in Venezuela, we have, for example, the National Constitution, article 68 expressly prohibits the control of the use of firearms in demonstrations and there is a resolution from the Ministry of the Defense to regulate the use of firearms in the control of demonstrations, so how are you going to control the use of weapons that is expressly prohibited in the Constitution? I say it as a reflection of whether that has to do with this culture of violence, repression, the use of lethal fire, as you propose in the study?
KA : This is part of the serious institutional problems we have. First, speaking as a lawyer, the basic issues, the hierarchical structure of the Kelsen pyramid, normatively nothing is above the Constitution and international Human Rights treaties, a resolution that is the famous resolution 8610from the normative point of view it is null. In other words, resolution 8610 is against, first, the series of resolutions and protocols issued by the Ministry of the Interior itself that develop the Organic Law of the Police Service, which it also violates. Subsequently, it violates the Constitution, the article that prohibits the use of weapons in demonstrations; but in addition, it establishes that citizen security is of a civilian nature and the bodies in charge of them are of this nature, the control of demonstrations is a dimension of citizen security that must be exercised by bodies of a civil nature, not military.
ET : Keymer, thankful at Son Derechos for this very professional study on the problem of violence in Venezuela and to close with a final message we wanted to make the following similarity, we read in the past days that 10,000 Venezuelan doctors in rural areas of Argentina providing support and So we see people like you, professionals, university students doing studies, giving contributions to a Venezuela that continues to be hopeful and needs the contributions that you are making. From that perspective, we wanted to say goodbye to these final minutes to leave them to you, around this contribution that you have been developing since academia and from research.
KA : Well, this work is part of a long process of investigations, of denunciations, the idea is to try to provide inputs, tools, not only for intellectual and academic debate, but also for activists, for the elaboration of public policies and for social mobilization, in this context it is essential to denounce these events, the organization by the victims, we must exert force, we must exert pressure to have the institutions and the police that Venezuela and the Venezuelan citizens deserve.
ET : Well, thank you very much Keymer Ávila University researcher, Professor of the Chair of Criminology at the Central University of Venezuela, adviser to various NGOs on citizen security and Human Rights. Thus, we have reached the end of our program for today, we say goodbye until tomorrow in your program Son Derechos.
Transcription of: Yannerys Pinto.
Publicado originalmente en: Provea