Venezuela on Friday released 22 people—including a judge, a journalist, and twenty students—after a United Nations report said more than a thousand people were killed by pro-government death squads in 2019.
U.N. officials said judge Maria Afiuni, journalist Braulio Jatar, and the students were released after U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet requested their release by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. In a statement, Bachelet said the releases signified “the beginning of positive engagement on the country’s many human rights issues.”
Jatar and Afiuni’s lawyer told Reuters the U.N. notified them of their releases, but they have yet to get any official notices from the government. Certain restrictions, like not being able to leave the country, would also still be in effect despite them being out of custody. This comes after Bachelet’s report claimed that more than five thousand were killed last year in Venezuela in “security operations,” and over 1,500 were also killed in the first four to five months of 2019.