Rights activists hail Venezuela’s departure from UN Human Rights Council
Rights groups hailed Venezuela’s departure from the UN Human Rights Council on Friday, vowing to press for an end to the “pernicious” international body.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would leave the Council for a second time on Monday, after accusing the UN body of supporting “criminal governments.”
“The United Nations has condemned Venezuela’s violations of human rights for several decades,” Maduro said after the announcement. “This is no exception. Those who are against this council must change its name to something more in line with the people of Venezuela themselves.”
Venezuela is leaving the council for the seventh time since it was created in 2006, with a vote of 19 against and 16 in favor.
The country had been embroiled in a bitter struggle with the security forces for weeks after millions took to the streets to protest against Maduro’s year-long political and economic crisis.
The Council, set up under the UN’s Human Rights Charter, has repeatedly slammed the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, who was elected in 2013 in an election condemned by rights groups.
“The UN Human Rights Council is and always has been a pernicious, destructive body, undermining the independence of member states,” said UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein in a statement explaining Venezuela’s departure.
Critics accused Human Rights Council of being a biased body, which consistently supports the rights of the wealthy, and of not doing enough against Venezuela’s rampant corruption.
The rights activists’ movement “is no longer interested in human rights, we are only interested in a better world,” said UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein after Venezuela’s departure.
Human rights activists said they were “extremely worried” by what they saw as Venezuela’s departure from the UN Human Rights Council, but praised the country’s efforts to address the country’s many problems.
Venezuela’s president, in announcing Venezuela’s withdrawal from the Human Rights Council, said the body was “unwilling to acknowledge the crimes and human rights violations by these governments.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said the government will continue to “work for the improvement of human rights and freedom abroad.”