APPEARANCES BY ERDOGAN, ASSAD, KIM JONG-UN
“LIKELY TO FOLLOW”
UN Watch demands equal time for wife
of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez
GENEVA, November 9, 2015 –
One month before Venezuela holds parliamentary elections, the UN agreed
to hold a special assembly for Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro this Thursday, November 12, at its Human Rights Council in Geneva, prompting concerns by diplomats and human rights activists.
UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights group based in Geneva, demanded equal time after the speech to invite Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. “While standard UNHRC meetings allow debate, the format of the Maduro meeting will be a “monologue, with no dissenting voices,” noted UN Watch.
Authoritarian Leaders Have New Forum
“By granting a special UN forum for Venezuela’s authoritarian ruler at the world’s highest human rights body — where no questions can be asked or dissenting voices heard — the UN has created a dangerous slippery slope. It’s only a matter of time now before Turkey’s Erdogan, Syria’s Assad and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un will throughout the year request the same podium, which they can otherwise only get every September in New York. The human rights council is liable to turn itself into a laughingstock,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights group.
Diplomats Tried to Block Maduro Request
Fears of “possible negative perceptions” by granting a rare assembly for Maduro’s speech ahead of the December 6 Venezuelan elections were expressed by diplomats on the German-led 5-member UNHRC bureau, according to minutes obtained by UN Watch, the independent non-governmental monitoring group based in Geneva.
“The minutes reveal strong resistance by at least some UNHRC diplomats to granting Venezuela’s request to hold the special meeting,” said Neuer.
Special Meeting for Abbas Created Precedent
“However, the council’s recent decision to grant an identical forum to PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas tied their hands, as Venezuela could not plausibly be denied a privilege already granted to what the UN considers a non-member observer state — especially as the UN, however absurdly, just re-elected Venezuela as a member of the human rights council.”
Venezuela Won Re-Election to UNHRC Despite Widespread Oppression
Neuer objected to the UN’s highest rights body holding an extraordinary gathering for a ruler widely criticized as authoritarian.
UN Watch recently led the opposition to Venezuela’s re-election to the UNHRC on October 28th — including a UN press conference featuring Venezuelan dissident and former UN ambassador Diego Arria — prompting sharp reactions from Caracas.
“Our recent report on Venezuela documents how the Maduro regime suppresses political opponents and student protesters, subjects prisoners to inhuman and degrading treatment, and restricts the media’s ability to report freely.”
“The arbitrary arrest, wrongful conviction and 14-year prison sentence against opposition
leader Leopoldo Lopez, as well as the ongoing arbitrary arrest and criminal process against
Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, are among the most high-profile examples of the
persecution and arbitrary imprisonment that civil society leaders and political opponents
face in Venezuela,” said Neuer.
More than 3,000 protesters, primarily university students, were detained during the pro-democracy
demonstrations that took place between February and December 2014.
About 100 of them remain in prison, while the rest have been released on parole and banned from
any political activism. Police and military forces in Venezuela frequently use brutal and disproportionate measures.