UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on voting for the U.N. Human Rights Council (all times local):
Human Rights Watch is calling Venezuela’s “undeserved and narrow election” to the U.N. Human Rights Council “a slap in the face to the country’s countless victims who’ve been tortured and murdered by government forces.”
Philippe Bolopion is the rights group’s deputy director for global advocacy. He said Thursday it’s also a slap to “the millions who have fled largely because of a humanitarian emergency the government unleashed.”
Venezuela and Brazil were the top vote getters for two Latin American seats on the council in the General Assembly vote, beating Costa Rica.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Thursday’s U.N. vote followed a “fierce campaign.” Some 50 organizations and nations campaigned in opposition to Maduro and his government over its rights record.
Maduro’s government has rejected recent criticism by the U.N.’s commissioner on human rights, who found cases of torture, sexual abuse and extrajudicial killings.
Maduro is under pressure by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who seeks to oust the socialist president.
Maduro’s attorney general on Thursday also announced the release of 24 people he called “political prisoners” in a gesture stemming from a new round of negotiations with minority parties that don’t include Guaidó.
Venezuela has won a contested election for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council despite a campaign by organizations and countries opposed to Nicolas Maduro’s government and its rights record.
There was scattered applause in the General Assembly chamber Thursday after 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.
In other contested races, Iraq lost out in the Asian group to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and the Marshall Islands, and Moldova lost in the Eastern Europe group to Armenia and Poland.
The 193-member General Assembly was electing 14 members to the 47-member Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting Jan. 1. Under its rules, seats are allocated to regions to ensure geographical representation.
The General Assembly is holding elections to the U.N. Human Rights Council with all eyes on the contested race for Latin American seats where Venezuela is a candidate and rights groups and opponents of Nicolás Maduro’s government are urging a “no” vote.
The Latin American and Caribbean regional group at the United Nations initially put forward two candidates for two seats — Venezuela and Brazil. But Costa Rica entered the race in early October, with strong backing from human rights groups and Maduro opponents.
“Now that U.N. member states have a choice, there is no possible excuse to vote for Venezuela,” said Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch. “A vote for Venezuela is a vote for the torture, murder and impunity that have become trademarks of President Nicolás Maduro’s government.”
The 193-member General Assembly is electing 14 members to the 47-member Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting Jan. 1. Under its rules, seats are allocated to regions to ensure geographical representation.