1. The Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the second periodic
report of Venezuela on the implementation of the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/1990/6/Add.19) at its 3rd,
4th and 5th meetings (E/C.12/2001/SR.3-5), held on 24 and 25 April
2001, and adopted, at its 23rd meeting (E/C.12/2001/SR.23), held on
8 May 2001, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the presence of a large and high-level delegation
and the cooperative spirit with which the delegation approached the
constructive dialogue with the Committee. However, the Committee regrets
the 10-year delay in the submission of the second periodic report
as well as the delay in the submission of the written replies to the
Committee's list of issues. In addition, the Committee regrets that
many questions put to the delegation received general, incomplete
or vague answers.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee
welcomes the adoption of the new 1999 Constitution, which incorporates
a wide range of human rights, including a number of the economic,
social and cultural rights enshrined in the Covenant, and the fact
that article 23 of the Constitutional accords international human
rights instruments, to which Venezuela is a party.
4. The Committee
notes with appreciation the establishment of the National Plan of
Action for Human Rights of 1997, and the establishment of a national
5. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the establishment of an independent Ombudsman's
6. The Committee
notes with appreciation the adoption in September 1998 of the Violence
against Women and the Family Act and the Equal Opportunities for Women
Act and the recent establishment of the autonomous National Women's
Institution that will, among other things, gather statistics on the
situation of women in Venezuela.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Covenant
7. The Committee
notes the severe floods suffered by Venezuela in 1999 and acknowledges
the impact they have had on the capacity of the State party in guaranteeing
the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights.
8. The Committee
further notes that the recent economic recession and the adverse effects
of structural adjustment programmes undergone by Venezuela in the
past 10 years have restricted the ability of the State party to comply
with its obligations under the Covenant.
D. Principal subjects of concern
9. The Committee
is concerned at the State party's slowness in implementing its own
National Plan of Action for Human Rights and the Venezuelan society
at large lacks awareness about rights enshrined in the Covenant.
10. The Committee
is concerned that the Ombudsman's Office does not place adequate emphasis
on the monitoring of the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural
rights by the citizens of Venezuela, especially by the indigenous
people, and that there is no case law relating directly to the provisions
of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
11. The Committee
is concerned that the non-issue of personal documentation to refugees
and asylum-seekers by the State authorities seriously hinders their
enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights
to work, health and education. This situation prompted a decision
by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in March 2001 ordering
protective measures for 287 Colombian refugees.
12. The Committee
deplores the discrimination against indigenous people, particularly
with regard to access to land ownership, housing, health services
and sanitation, education, work and adequate nutrition. The Committee
is particularly concerned about the adverse effects of the economic
activities connected with the exploitation of natural resources, such
as mining in the Imataca Forest Reserve and coal-mining in the Sierra
de Perijá, on the health, living environment and way of life of the
indigenous populations living in these regions.
13. The Committee
regrets the inadequacy of the information provided with regard to
articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant. The Committee is concerned at the
high rate of unemployment and lack of job security for workers as
hiring practices become more flexible, driving many workers into the
the stipulations in article 91 of the Constitution establishing the
right of everyone to sufficient wages to support a worker and his
family, and by which minimum wages are adjusted every year, the Committee
is concerned that the minimum wage is still far short of meeting workers'
basic requirements, and that there are disparities between urban and
15. The Committee
is concerned that following the national referendum of December 2000
on trade union reorganization, the entire leadership of the country's
union federations and confederations was dismissed whereas only union
members can elect or remove their leaders.
16. The Committee
is alarmed about the high rate of domestic violence and the extent
of child prostitution and trafficking in children, and regrets the
lack of available statistics on the number of street children. The
Committee is deeply concerned about the extent of the sex trade involving
children and the inability of the State party to address these issues.
17. The Committee
is deeply concerned that the efforts of the State party to improve
the situation of its people are inadequate, and that there is still
an alarmingly high level of poverty in Venezuela, especially among
the indigenous peoples, and that economic, social and cultural rights
are not integrated into the Government's anti-poverty programme.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
18. The Committee
recommends that the State party seek advisory services from the Office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning
the overall implementation of the 1997 National Plan of Action for
Human Rights, and in particular the inclusion of economic, social
and cultural rights of the Plan.
19. The Committee
urges the State party to organize an awareness-raising campaign to
education the public at large on their economic, social and cultural
rights, and to target in particular magistrates, police officers and
other responsible officials.
20. The Committee
encourages the State party to proceed with the adoption of the Act
establishing the Ombudsman's Office and urges the Ombudsman to attend
closely to the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural
rights, in particular with respect to indigenous communities.
21. The Committee
encourages the State party to ratify the 1951 Convention relating
to the Status of Refugees, the 1954 Convention relating to the Status
of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
The Committee recommends that the State party issue personal documentation
to asylum-seekers in order to enable them to enjoy their basic rights
under the Covenant and to apply the protective measures recommended
in March 2001 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
22. The Committee
requests the State party to provide, in its next periodic report,
detailed information on the situation of indigenous peoples and on
the efforts, if any, by the Government to acknowledge the specific
economic, social and cultural rights of the indigenous people as a
distinct minority group and to improve their situation, in particular
in the Imataca Forest Reserve and the Sierra de Perijá.
23. The Committee
requests the State party to provide, in its next period report, more
detailed information relating to articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant,
including in particular an account of the role of labour inspectors,
and urges the State party to implement the 1986 Health and Safety
Act, which determines safe and healthy conditions of work.
24. The Committee
recommends that the State party take effective action to reduce the
unemployment rate by inter alia, providing training for young
people and protection against unwarranted dismissal for workers, and
by conducting regular reviews of the minimum wage levels to enable
workers to attain an adequate standard of living for themselves and
25. The Committee
calls on the State party to comply with the recommendation of the
International Labour Organization requesting the revocation of the
results of the referendum on trade union reorganization and to refrain
from making hostile declarations against independent trade union federations.
It also recommends that the bill in preparation afford all workers
trade union freedoms as required by article 8 of the Covenant.
26. The Committee
invites the State party to provide, in its next periodic report, updated
statistics on the situation of women in Venezuela, in particular on
the phenomenon of domestic violence, as well as on the status of implementation
of the newly adopted law on domestic violence. The Committee urges
the State party to take more effective measures to combat domestic
violence against women and children.
27. The Committee
urges the State party to indicate, in its next periodic report, the
problem of the measures it has undertaken to address the problem of
street children and, in particular, the problem of their sexual exploitation.
28. The Committee
urges the State party to seek international technical assistance in
the implementation of its anti-poverty programme.
29. The Committee
requests the State party to provide, in its next periodic report,
detailed information about the functioning of the social security
system, the privatization of the health-care system and the integration
of vulnerable groups, including indigenous people, into the health-care
30. The Committee
recommends that the State party implement, with the assistance of
the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,
a comprehensive National Education for All Plan as required by the
Dakar Framework for Action, and to reflect in the Plan articles 13
and 14 of the Covenant and the Committee's General Comments 11 and
31. The Committee
urges the State party to develop a more elaborate system of national
statistics on all the rights enshrined in the Covenant. In particular,
the Committee requests the State party to provide, in its next periodic
report, information including relevant statistics on the incidence
of violence, the general housing situation, forced evictions, and
on the status of land reform in Venezuela. The Committee further recommends
that the State party provide information on the steps taken in these
32. The Committee
requests that the State party disseminate these concluding observations
as widely as possible among the State institutions concerned, as well
as its citizens.
33. The Committee
requests the State party to address, in its third periodic report,
the implementation of these concluding observations.
34. The Committee
requests the State party to submit its third periodic report by 30