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EU blacklists top Venezuelan officials over torture, rights abuses

Relatives mourn the deaths of two dissidents gunned down during a bloody police operation in Venezuela
Relatives mourn the deaths of two dissidents gunned down during a bloody police operation in Venezuela AFP/File

Brussels (AFP)

The European Union on Monday blacklisted seven senior Venezuelan officials over human rights violations, including the regime's intelligence chief, who the bloc accused of torture.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol and the head of the Venezuelan Supreme Court are among those hit by asset freezes and travel bans in the EU's first targeted sanctions against members of President Nicolas Maduro's administration.

The EU has voiced serious concerns about rights abuses in Venezuela, where protests against Maduro last year turned violent and economic collapse has led to dire shortages of food and medicine.

"In view of the continuing deterioration of the situation in Venezuela, the Council (of EU foreign ministers) decided to put seven individuals holding official positions under restrictive measures, with immediate effect," the EU said in a statement.

"These individuals are involved in the non-respect of democratic principles or the rule of law as well as in the violation of human rights."

The official notification of the sanctions said intelligence chief Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez was responsible for "serious human rights violations including arbitrary detention, inhuman and degrading treatment, and torture".

Supreme Court president Maikel Moreno and the number two of Maduro's ruling socialist party Diosdado Cabello have also been added to the EU's sanctions list.

The EU warned the situation in was deteriorating in Venezuela, from where hundreds of thousands of people have fled to seek refuge from the economic crisis crippling their homeland, which has seen severe shortages of food and medicine.

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