“The lives of Venezuelan transplant patients stranded abroad, as well as those waiting to travel abroad for life-saving surgery, are under threat,” the experts said. “A trip abroad for treatment has become the only hope for hundreds of critically ill patients.”
The group of special rapporteurs said they had warned the US government and other countries and entities with an interest in the situation, calling on them to “mitigate the unexpected effects of sanctions and recovery from treatment of people whose lives are now in danger.”
“They must take full responsibility for the effect their actions have on the fundamental rights to life and health of every individual around the world.”
The experts say third countries, regional groups, banks and private companies have been too cautious in dealing with Venezuela, fearing they would inadvertently violate US sanctions, which were placed on some individual Venezuelans and government assets in 2015 and 2019.
As a result, money cannot be transferred from Venezuela and some patients have been left stranded or destitute in countries where they went for treatment, the experts said.
Under the 2019 sanctions, all Venezuelan state assets in the US were frozen and all transactions with US citizens and businesses were banned.
The experts said the main concern is a program run by the Simon Bolivar Foundation, the charitable arm of the US-based Citgo Petroleum Corporation, which has helped cancer patients, many of them children, travel abroad for transplants and other life-saving treatments. .
Hundreds of these patients were previously linked to a national transplant program with Venezuela’s government, UN independent experts said, but their treatment was halted when the US denied the government further control of Citgo.
Targeting the state oil and gas company “as a way to control Venezuela’s political agenda has had devastating consequences for hundreds of people undergoing treatment for transplant rejection, both in Venezuela and abroad,” the statement said. experts.
“People on a state waiting list for transplants have also been informed that their treatments will not go ahead.”
There are about 190 cancer patients on a waiting list for foreign treatment, and about 14 children, including three toddlers, died between 2017 and 2020, according to the experts, while waiting for treatment under the program.
These cases illustrate the need for full protection of fundamental human rights, the experts said: “States have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of every person affected by direct international action, even those living outside their jurisdiction or effective control, not what their original intention was.
“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 on individuals, and to repeal sanctions, zero-risk and over-compliance policies that affect fundamental human rights.”
Special Rapporteurs are part of the so-called Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and work on a voluntary basis. They are not UN personnel and do not receive a salary. They are independent of any government or organization and serve purely in their individual capacity.