Mérida, October 7, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed two resolutions concerning Venezuela on Tuesday.
The first was presented by Peru and endorsed by the right wing governments which make up the Lima Group. It granted a two year extension to a controversial fact finding mission which is investigating the human rights situation in the country. The resolution was passed by 22 votes in favour, three against (including Venezuela), and 22 abstentions.
Amongst those backing it was the center-left government of Argentina, which had previously called for non-intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Influential figures and popular movements from Argentina have since condemned the vote, with the country’s ambassador to Moscow resigning on Wednesday in protest.
The UN’s fact finding mission was constituted one year ago by the UNHRC, with its members Marta Valinas (Portugal), Francisco Cox (Chile) and Paul Seils (UK) presenting their first report at the previous council session in September. The report accused the Caracas government of crimes against humanity through carrying out extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture.
The Maduro government rejected these accusations, and claimed the mission to be“politicised,” “lacking in scientific scrutiny” and that the report was “written from afar.” Days after the report was published, Venezuela presented a counter-report titled “The Truth about Venezuela,” while Attorney General Tarek William Saab also defended the country’s record in matters of human rights.
Hours after the first resolution was passed, a second one presented by Syria, Iran and Turkey was also approved with 14 votes in favour, seven against and 26 abstentions. The second resolution, which was backed by Venezuela, extends the functions of the Venezuela-based office of the UN high commissioner for human rights, as well as promising to “continue UN technical cooperation” with the government.
It also denounced the human rights consequences of Washington’s blockade against the Caribbean country and urged a “constructive dialogue and cooperation with the state” in order to “strengthen its capacity to fulfil its obligations in the matter of human rights,” specifically mentioning efforts to strengthen the judicial system in the country.
Following the two votes, Caracas strongly condemned the Lima Group resolution, vowing that it will “not recognise parallel and unnecessary mechanisms” which express a “cynical concern” for human rights. For his part, Venezuela’s permanent representative at the United Nations, Jorge Valero, added that the resolution “seeks the imposition of monitoring mechanisms which do not have the consent of my country nor my people.”
On the other hand, Caracas celebrated the passing of the Syria-Iran-Turkey resolution, with a Foreign Ministry statement explaining that the resolution “demonstrates the commitment of the Venezuelan state to maintaining dialogue and respectful and constructive cooperation with the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.” Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza also backed the resolution personally, claiming that Venezuela’s commitment to human rights is “absolute.”
Following an inaugural visit to the country in July 2019, the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights set up a permanent two-person office in Caracas.
Since, UN reps have been granted access to prisons and other sites, and have reportedly worked to strengthen the legal system and “the institutional mechanisms for human rights protection.”
Subsequently, a number of detained right wing activists have been released by the government, and authorities have hinted at a shakeup of the contentious FAES special police forces. The High Commissioner’s office has previously called for the FAES to be dissolved. The special forces have also been denounced by many Venezuelan popular movements and leftwing parties.