Response to Venezuelan Foreign Minister’s Remarks to the Human Rights Council

Press Statement
U.S. Delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council

Geneva,
September 11, 2017

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister’s address to the Human Rights Council is a transparent attempt to shift attention away from both the rupture in Venezuela’s constitutional order and the Maduro regime’s sustained repression of political dissent and efforts to sow fear among its critics.

It is thus an affront to the Council.  The Venezuelan government’s actions are diametrically opposed to all that the Human Rights Council should stand for.  We encourage the international community to seize this opportunity to condemn the Maduro regime for the assumption of legislative powers by an illegitimate constituent assembly, and for the human rights violations and abuses it continues to commit with impunity.

Foreign Minister Arreaza’s fictitious portrayal of Venezuela stands in stark contrast to the evidence of egregious human rights violations occurring there.  On August 30, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documented excessive force, torture, and arbitrary detention among other abuses by national authorities against demonstrators, perceived political opponents, and civil society in Venezuela.  And today, the High Commissioner warned that the Maduro regime may have already committed crimes against humanity.

Venezuela’s disdain for the Human Rights Council as an institution is similarly egregious.  The High Commissioner has pointed out that Venezuela has not permitted a single thematic mandate holder established by the Human Rights Council to visit the country.  As U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said, “Having the Venezuelan foreign minister address the Council makes a mockery of the institution.”  Venezuela’s membership on the Council undermines its credibility and shows why the UN needs to urgently undertake the task of Council reform and strengthen the requirements for membership.

We reiterate our support for the efforts undertaken by states in the Americas, particularly the Lima Group and the Organization of American States, to find a peaceful, Venezuela-led solution to the continuing crisis there.  The United States stands with the people of Venezuela as they work to restore their democracy.

(end statement)

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