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NEW YORK (July 15, 2021) — Yesterday, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted contributions to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Venezuela, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

In the individual submission for Venezuela, HRF pointed out that the situation in the country has worsened considerably since its last review in 2016. The report highlights the regime’s widespread use of arbitrary arrests and violations of due process over the last five years, as well as the now well-documented cases of extrajudicial killings at the hands of state security forces amounting to crimes against humanity, according to a 2020 UN report.

“Today, the world mourns for Venezuela. The world has become so accustomed to Maduro’s mercilessness that our conclusion hardly comes as a surprise — the repressive tactics by police, armed forces, and paramilitary groups have only become more aggressive and pervasive since Venezuela’s last UPR review half a decade ago,” said HRF Chief Legal Officer Roberto González. “Like so many caudillos of the past, Maduro’s goal is to eliminate all opposition, at gunpoint if need be. For the sake of Venezuela, Maduro’s regime must soon come to an end. Venezuela does not need an executioner; it needs a peaceful transition to democracy.”

HRF called on Venezuela to prioritize human rights by promoting freedom of speech and freedom of association, and allow independent experts to enter the country and report on the human rights situation on-the-ground. HRF also urged the Venezuelan regime to guarantee judicial independence and ensure that free and fair elections can take place.

In its individual submission for Uganda, HRF emphasized that, for more than three decades, Yoweri Museveni’s regime has systematically violated the rights of individuals who express any disagreement with the government and its policies, as evidenced by the ongoing curtailment of the freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, particularly among LGBTQI+ individuals, as well as through arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

“The Ugandan government — headed by Museveni over the last 35 years — continues to use arbitrary arrest and detention as a means of silencing political opposition leaders, as well as human rights and environmental rights activists,” said HRF International Legal Associate Michelle Gulino. “Rather than hold the regime accountable for countless abductions and extrajudicial killings, some in the international community continue to legitimize Museveni’s rule by forging business relationships with him and his cronies, while looking the other way when he orchestrates elections marred by censorship, fraud, intimidation, and jailings of political opponents.”

HRF called on the UN to demand that Uganda ensure that its activists, journalists, opposition groups, and LGBTQI+ individuals can operate and exist peacefully and safely, without fear of retribution in the form of censorship, harassment, arbitrary arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, or extrajudicial killings, as well as have access to effective mechanisms for redress.

Finally, HRF’s individual submission for Zimbabwe highlighted the regime’s widespread human rights abuses, particularly as they relate to arbitrary arrests, detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings, as well as targeted gender-based violence. The Zimbabwean government’s campaign to quell dissent and imprison its critics has been revitalized under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose administration remains intolerant of the freedom of expression, instead resorting to systematic arrests, detentions, and abductions that demonstrate Zimbabwe’s lack of political will for democratic reform.

HRF called on Zimbabwe’s government to respect the individual rights of its citizens, including activists, journalists, and opposition members, and to strengthen its commitment to gender equality by increasing access to legal and other support services for survivors of gender-based violence, as well as to allow special rapporteurs unobstructed site visits.

Read the individual submission for Venezuela

Read the individual submission for Uganda

Read the individual submission for Zimbabwe


The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

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