Venezuela Slams OHCHR “Bias” amid “Crimes Against Humanity” Allegations

Venezuela accused the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of “biased” and “politicized” conduct Monday after the latter alleged the existence of “crimes against humanity” in the South American country.

By Lucas Koerner

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Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza addresses the UNHRC. (Cancillería de Venezuela)
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza addresses the UNHRC. (Cancillería de Venezuela)
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Caracas, September 12, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela accused the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of “biased” and “politicized” conduct Monday after the latter alleged the existence of “crimes against humanity” in the South American country.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein accused the Maduro government of “crushing democratic institutions and critical voices” in the context of four months of violent opposition protests that resulted in at least 126 deaths. 

“My investigation suggests the possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed, which can only be confirmed by a subsequent criminal investigation,” the Jordanian prince claimed

In particular, Zeid made reference to recent report issued by his office last month, which accused Caracas of “excessive use of force” against protesters. 

During his speech before the body, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza fired back at the commissioner, lambasting the OHCHR for its alleged “use of human rights as political weapon aimed at domination”. 

“We call on the High Commissioner to cease his aggression against Venezuela by way of reports that don’t have a mandate from the member-states, but also are plagued by lies, unverified claims, distorted arguments, and affronts to our country,” he declared.

Arreaza additionally took aim at the United States, responding to Washington’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, who decried the Venezuelan diplomat’s plans to speak in Geneva as a “mockery of the institution”.

“If there is a country that can be questioned for human rights violations and should be evaluated objectively by this body, it’s the United States,” he asserted. 

Arreaza went on to enumerate a list of alleged US human rights violations, including “illegal wars, economic blockades, coercive measures, shameful walls that separate peoples, illegal prisons like Guantanamo, secret CIA prisons where citizens from around the world are kidnapped and tortured, among many others”. 

The foreign minister likewise defended his government’s handling of opposition protests, accusing anti-government groups of making “systematic use of firearms, deadly barricades and traps, homemade arms and explosives”. 

“In four months… more than 820 state security personnel were wounded, including 73 gunshot wounds, and [there were] 913 attacks against hospitals, schools, food distribution centers, and human rights organizations,” he affirmed.

Zeid’s allegations of human rights violations in Caracas come on the heels of a controversial report issued by his office last month, which blamed Venezuelan security forces and pro-government groups for the majority of all deaths during the unrest. 

The OHCHR report was widely criticized at the time for downplaying the violence of anti-government groups, whom it held responsible for just four fatalities.

According to data compiled by Venezuelanalysis, at least fourteen people were killed at the hands of authorities while as many as thirty-one deaths may be attributable, directly or indirectly, to opposition political violence.