Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Venezuela wins seat on UN rights body

Published:Thursday | October 17, 2019 | 3:43 PM
In this September 30, 2019, file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Caracas, Venezuela. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Venezuela won a contested election for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday despite a campaign by over 50 organisations and many countries opposed to Nicolas Maduro’s government and its rights record.

There was scattered applause in the General Assembly chamber when its president announced the results of the voting for two Latin American seats.

Brazil topped the ballot with 153 votes followed by Venezuela with 105 votes and late entry Costa Rica with 96 votes.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called the vote “a victory” that followed “a fierce and brutal campaign by the United States ... and its subordinate nations.”

The Trump administration has recognised opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president and US Ambassador Kelly Craft called the placing of President Nicolás Maduro’s government on the council “an embarrassment to the United Nations and a tragedy for the people of Venezuela.”

“That one of the world’s worst human-rights abusers would be granted a seat on a body that is supposed to defend human rights is utterly appalling,” Craft said in a statement after the vote.

Philippe Bolopion, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for global advocacy, called Venezuela’s election “undeserved” and “a slap in the face to the country’s countless victims who’ve been tortured and murdered by government forces, as well as the millions who have fled largely because of a humanitarian emergency the government unleashed.”

The 193-member world body elected 14 members to the 47-member Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting January 1.

Under its rules, seats are allocated to regions to ensure geographical representation.

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