Venezuela wins seat on UN Human Rights Council despite uproar

Cheryl Sanders
October 20, 2019

Brazil and Venezuela won the two Latin American seats on the council, with Brazil topping the ballot with 153 votes and Venezuela with 105, beating Costa Rica.

The United States has been leading a campaign of sanctions and diplomatic pressure on the Maduro regime to step down after his re-election was deemed illegitimate past year by the opposition-controlled Venezuelan National Assembly.

"What the U.S. said is utterly unjustifiable", said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the countries who cast their secret ballots for Venezuela's inclusion dealt "a harsh blow" to the cause of global human rights.

The 193-member world body elected 14 members to the 47-member Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting January 1. Meanwhile, Armenia (144 votes) and Poland (124) were elected for the two seats available as part of the Eastern European Group, while Moldova, with 103 votes, was left out.

The Africa region had four countries on the ballot -Benin, Libya, Mauritania and Sudan - for four seats. Western Europe was also a non-competitive election, with Germany and Netherlands taking the two seats reserved for their region. Mauritania, with its history of slavery, was deemed "unqualified" for a seat in a joint report on the candidates issued last week by UN Watch, the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, based in Canada, and the Human Rights Foundation based in the United States. "The people of Venezuela should rest assured that Maduro can not hide behind the cloak of an illegitimate body like the Human Rights Council".

Craft added that Venezuela's win "provides ironclad proof that the Human Rights Council is broken and reinforces why the United States withdrew".

UN Watch took to Twitter minutes after the election to point out that Mauritania, Libya and Sudan were all elected to the council by larger margins than Venezuela's, despite allegations of human rights abuses in those nations. "In Venezuela, a dictator starves his people, and in Libya there are camps that torture African migrants".

Three times a year, it reviews the human rights records of UN Member States, in a special process created to give countries the chance to present the actions they have taken, and what they've done, to advance human rights. He called it a "biased vision" of Venezuela and demanded it be "corrected".

In Caracas, Attorney General Tarek William Saab hailed the vote as a "major achievement" and announced the release of 24 detained opposition figures.

Venezuela's leftist government under President Nicolás Maduro has jailed opposition leaders and is accused of using torture and arbitrary arrests as it struggles to hold on to power amid a collapsing economy.

14 new members were elected to the Human Rights Council on Thursday, following a secret ballot held in the General Assembly Hall in NY.

Before the vote, Human Rights Watch also criticized Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for embracing "rhetoric hostile to human rights norms" and for giving "a green light to criminal networks destroying the Amazon rainforest".

Scrap Elections Altogether: "Given that our own democracies continue to disregard the election criteria by voting for abusers", said Neuer, "then we should just scrap elections altogether, and make every country a member, as is the case at the General Assembly's human rights committee".

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