PROVEA and Human Rights Watch also received information suggesting that security forces have arbitrarily detained hundreds of people during OLP raids, and have abused some of the detainees. Security agents reportedly carried out mass detentions indiscriminately and without presenting warrants, sometimes pulling people out of their homes when they were sleeping, according to residents. According to official sources, security agents temporarily detained more than 14,000 people between July 2015 and January 2016 to "verify" whether they were wanted for the commission of crimes, but fewer than 100 of those people were ultimately charged with any offense. The large disparity between the number of those rounded up and those brought before prosecutors to be charged with a crime suggests that many of the detentions, quite likely the majority, were indiscriminate and arbitrary.
In some cases reviewed by PROVEA and Human Rights Watch, the agents subjected detainees to physical abuse, including beatings, witnesses said. Some agents also reportedly stole money, laptop computers, cell phones, and basic goods such as food and diapers from homes while searching them or detaining their residents.
Forced Evictions and the Destruction of Homes
PROVEA and Human Rights Watch obtained evidence indicating that government agents arbitrarily evicted thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of houses during OLP raids. Under both international and Venezuelan law, authorities must notify people prior to evictions and grant them an opportunity to challenge the validity of eviction orders. Yet residents of two communities subject to mass evictions in Miranda and Carabobo states, as well as residents of government-funded housing in other locations, reported that they had been granted neither prior notice nor any opportunity to contest the government's decision to evict them. During two OLP raids, security forces allegedly bulldozed hundreds of homes. Residents said that they had a right to live in the homes from which they were evicted, but said they were not given the opportunity to present such information to competent authorities before the evictions or to obtain adequate remedies after the fact.