Venezuela Orders UN Human Rights Office to Suspend Operations

Venezuela Un Office 36135
Venezuela UN Office

In a significant diplomatic move, Venezuela’s government has directed the local United Nations office on human rights to halt its operations within the country, giving its personnel a 72-hour deadline to depart. This directive was announced by Foreign Affairs Minister Yván Gil during a press conference in Caracas. The decision follows closely after the arrest of human rights attorney Rocío San Miguel, sparking widespread criticism both domestically and internationally.

The Venezuelan government’s formal statement articulated a call for the suspension of the UN high commissioner for human rights’ technical advisory office’s activities. Furthermore, it announced plans for a comprehensive review of the technical cooperation terms. Accusations were leveled against the UN human rights office for its purported “colonialist, abusive and violating attitude,” alleging its complicity in fostering impunity for individuals accused of assassination attempts, coups, and other conspiratorial activities against President Nicolas Maduro and his administration.

In response to these allegations, Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN human rights office, expressed regret over the Venezuelan government’s announcement and indicated that the organization is contemplating its subsequent actions. She reiterated the office’s commitment to promoting and safeguarding the human rights of the Venezuelan populace.

Tensions further escalated following remarks by the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, criticizing the Venezuelan government’s food program. Fakhri, who recently concluded a visit to Venezuela, criticized the program for not addressing the underlying causes of hunger and being vulnerable to political manipulation.

Rocío San Miguel’s arrest at an airport near Caracas as she awaited a flight to Miami has particularly drawn attention to the government’s crackdown on dissent. Despite a delay in official acknowledgment of her detention, concerns have been raised about her welfare and the denial of her legal rights. Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab confirmed her confinement at the Helicoide prison, notorious for housing political prisoners.

The UN high commissioner for human rights had previously expressed “deep concern” over San Miguel’s detention, advocating for her immediate release and the respect for her legal rights. The closure of the UN office in Caracas, established in September 2019, marks a new low in Venezuela’s engagement with international human rights mechanisms.

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