In a report which pulls no punches a panel of experts appointed, by the United Nations Human Rights Council to look at the impact of unilateral sanction imposed by the United States on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, has concluded that hundreds of cancer patients could die.
The experts go on to say, “This issue has been brought to the attention of the Government of the United States and other entities”. They also said, “They must take full responsibility for the effect their actions have on the fundamental to life and health of every individual around the world.”
The report points out that groups of countries, banks and private companies have, in its opinion, been overly cautious in dealings with Venezuela because they fear violating US sanctions.
The experts explain that this means that it is extremely difficult and costly to transfer money out of Venezuela which has left many who have gone overseas to seek treatment stranded in mid-treatment.
In particular the experts highlight the impact of the US’s unilateral coercive sanctions on the programme run by the Simon Bolivar Foundation, which is the charitable arm of US-based, Venezuelan state-owned CITGO Petroleum Corporation.
The Foundation’s programme helped many cancer patients, including children, to travel overseas for life-saving treatments.
The number of patients linked to the programme who have had their treatment discontinued, when the United States expropriated ownership of CITGO from Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, runs into thousands. It is known that some 14 children including 3 toddlers died between 2017 and 2020 waiting for treatment under the programme.
The panel of experts stressed that these heart-breaking cases illustrate the need for full protection of fundamental human rights.
It further comments “States have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of every person affected by direct international action, even those outside their jurisdiction or effective control”.
The panel, headed by Ms. Alena Douhan, UN Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights, concludes by noting “While the right to health and the right to life are fundamental for every individual around the world, we call on all States, banks and private companies to take full responsibility for the effects of their actions, and withdraw sanctions”.
Other members of the panel included Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Obiora Okafor, Livingstone Sewanyana, Saad Alfaragi and Tlaleng Mofokeng. As with all such groups the experts, who are not UN staff and offer their services on a voluntary basis and receive no salary for their work.
Importantly, they are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their