CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's top security official announced Sunday the government of President Nicolas Maduro will use the military to fight rampant violent crime, raising concerns among activists who warned the initiative could lead to human rights violations.
Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez said personnel from the army, navy and air force will join National Guard troops as part of a forthcoming anti-crime initiative.
Rodriguez did not provide details of the plan during an interview broadcast on state television, but he said tapping the military would give the government "potential that we can use to quickly reduce the crime rate."
"It will be a good tool that is going to bring peace to citizens," he said.
According to a recently released study by the U.N. Development Program, Venezuela had the world's fifth highest homicide rate last year, trailing Honduras, El Salvador, the Ivory Coast and Jamaica.
Rafael Uzcategui, an activist with the local human rights group Provea, warned against using the armed forces to fight crime because military personnel are not trained for such duties.
Venezuela's military personnel, he said, undergo specific training for armed conflicts rather than for "a democratic policy of public order control and crime containment."
"Provea has always questioned the use of groups from the armed forces in citizen security operations," Uzcategui said.
He added, "This can bring about potential violations of human rights."