UN Human Rights Council: Rights activists welcome Venezuela’s departure


Venezuela has lost its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council – a development hailed by activists and human rights defenders in Venezuela as cause for celebration on Tuesday.

The Council, a 47-member multilateral body, is responsible for promoting human rights and combating abuses around the world, although it has been criticized for allowing the participation of countries with uneven human rights records. human rights, including China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Russia. (Moscow was suspended from the council following its invasion of Ukraine in February.)

The Venezuelan government, accused of committing crimes against humanity, had sat on the council since 2019. It did not react after failing to be re-elected on Tuesday. The result, however, was a symbolic victory for opponents of leader Nicolas Maduro and for human rights activists in Venezuela.

“This vote sends a clear message to the government that it must live up to its international human rights responsibilities. Council members aim to promote human rights at home and abroad, and that is something that Venezuela does not do,” said Victoria Capriles, director of the Human Rights Center of the Metropolitan University of Caracas.

Andreina Baduel, whose father, prominent dissident and retired general Raul Baduel, died of Covid while imprisoned in Caracas last year for allegedly conspiring against Maduro, told CNN she welcomes the result of the vote.

“This result is a statement of truth, and the truth is that Venezuela is violating human rights and the world knows it. It is a relief in our endless struggle for justice and freedom,” she said.

Venezuela competed with Chile and Costa Rica for two seats allocated to Latin American countries and came third with 88 votes. Chile and Costa Rica obtained 144 and 134 votes respectively.

Miguel Pizarro, who represents Venezuela’s political opposition at the UN, told CNN the lost seat meant that critics of Maduro’s regime had finally been heard.

“This result is the result of diplomatic efforts and the denunciation of human rights violations in Venezuela. Victims and NGOs have worked tirelessly to achieve this result.

Critics have questioned the effectiveness of the council, which cannot prosecute human rights abusers. Yet many activists and victims see it as a key to expanding human rights around the world. And Council-mandated investigations and outreach can lead to enforcement by other bodies, such as the International Criminal Court.

“What is happening in Venezuela is that the crisis has normalized: the human rights violations have not stopped, it is simply no longer news, and in the face of this normalization, the only obstacle is the work of multilateral bodies like the Council,” said Rafael Uzcategui, director of the human rights organization Provea in Caracas.

Venezuela’s government has found itself increasingly isolated on the international stage since 2019, when Maduro won another six-year term in an election widely seen as a sham by the international community.

Partly to improve its reputation, the government allowed international bodies like the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – an investigative office separate from the Council – to visit Venezuela and investigate allegations of abuse. ‘abuse.

According to Provea, documented extrajudicial executions at the hands of security forces fell by 50% between 2020 and 2021, but still amounted to 1,502 killings last year

Meanwhile, more than 200 Venezuelans remain in prison for political reasons, according to Foro Penalan association of lawyers that provides legal assistance to activists and victims in Caracas.

An investigation set up by the Council in 2019, the International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela, released a report last month documenting alleged crimes against humanity, including torture by security forces. Venezuelan security forces, although he also recognizes the efforts of Venezuelan justice. system to hold these perpetrators to account.

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