Venezuela asks UN human rights staff to leave country amid review

The government said it would decide its next steps after revising its cooperation with the organization

Venezuela’s government has asked staff from the United Nations’ human rights body to leave the country within three days, saying it will conduct a revision of its cooperation with the organization, with the UN saying it would evaluate next steps.

The South American country’s government said it had made a decision “to suspend the activities of the technical advisory office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and carry out a holistic revision of the technical cooperation terms.”

The review will take place over the next 30 days, the government said in a statement, adding that all UN personnel connected to the office must leave the country within the next 72 hours.

“We regret this announcement and are evaluating the next steps. We continue to engage with the authorities and other stakeholders,” UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in response to questions from Reuters. “Our guiding principle has been and remains the promotion and protection of the human rights of the people of Venezuela.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan state television harshly criticized comments by the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, who just concluded a visit to Venezuela.

Fakhri said in a statement that the government food program does not tackle the root causes of hunger and is susceptible to political influences.

The UN human rights office, which has operated in Venezuela since 2019 and has 13 staff in the country, must rectify its “colonialist, abusive, and violating attitude,” the government’s statement added.

The office has played an “inappropriate role” in the country and supported impunity for people involved in attempts at assassination, coups, conspiracies, and other plots, it said.

The Venezuelan government regularly accuses members of the political opposition of plotting takeovers or the assassination of President Nicolas Maduro, all accusations vehemently denied by opposition parties and their members.

The United States, the UN, and others have decried the detention and arraignment this week of defense expert Rocio San Miguel. Some members of her family were also detained, though four have been released.

“Obviously, that’s something that we are concerned about and obviously going to continue to monitor,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked on Thursday about Venezuela’s decision on the human rights body. Other UN bodies, including the World Food Programme and children’s agency UNICEF, also operate in Venezuela.



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