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United Nations review: Venezuela excels in Human Rights ( 0) Printer friendly page Print This
By P/Agencies. T/COI
Correo del Orinoco
Monday, Oct 17, 2011

"While most recommendations were favorable, including a suggestion by Nicaragua that “the revolutionary policies of the Venezuelan government be strengthened so that all Venezuelans can fully enjoy their fundamental rights”, other countries such as the United States, France, and Israel criticized what they said were limitations of “freedom of expression” and a lack of “an independent judiciary”.

"In response to the overall assessment, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister [Nicolas Maduro] affirmed that “positive suggestions” would be taken back to his country for consideration by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, but that recommendations made “with an aggressive spirit and absolute cynicism” would be rejected as such."

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro speaking at the 12th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in Geneva.

On Tuesday the Venezuelan government welcomed the results of what it called “an open and extensive” human rights assessment carried out this week by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Temir Porras said the Human Rights evaluation had “provided an opportunity to revise, deepen, and perfect those public policies directed at protecting and promoting human rights in Venezuela”.

The diplomat thanked the UN body for its review, saying he spoke on behalf of “the millions of Venezuelans who, walking hand in hand with their government, continue to make Human Rights a tangible, concrete, living reality”.

Porras’ comments came at the end of a lengthy UN review process known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a newly-implemented mechanism created to evaluate the Human Rights situations in all 193 UN Member States. As part of the process, each country presents a self assessment, which is later thoroughly reviewed by fellow members of UN Human Rights Council.

In July 2011, Venezuela submitted its report to the UN body, entitled “Human Rights for Good Living”. In it, the Venezuelan government placed advances in Human Rights into the context of the Bolivarian Revolution, highlighting for example, the total eradication of illiteracy, dramatic reductions in poverty rates, important increases in nutrition and food security, universal access to health care services and higher education.

During the 12th Session of the UPR Working Group, held in Geneva late last week, the UN body reviewed the Human Rights situation of 16 countries ranging from Ireland and Iceland to Syria and Venezuela.

Understanding the importance of the “open and extensive process”, in contrast to private Human Rights assessments issued by non-government organizations (NGOs) based in or funded by the United States and its allies, the Venezuelan government sent a high-ranking delegation to Geneva that included Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nicia Maldonado, and General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega.

After presenting their assessment of Human Rights in their country, the delegation participated in the critical review process coordinated by Guatemala, Burkina Faso, and the Czech Republic, the three countries selected to lead the assessment of Venezuela. Open to all Member States, the review resulted in a total 148 recommendations to be considered by the Venezuelan government.

Positive & Negative Results

While most recommendations were favorable, including a suggestion by Nicaragua that “the revolutionary policies of the Venezuelan government be strengthened so that all Venezuelans can fully enjoy their fundamental rights”, other countries such as the United States, France, and Israel criticized what they said were limitations of “freedom of expression” and a lack of “an independent judiciary”.

In response to the overall assessment, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister affirmed that “positive suggestions” would be taken back to his country for consideration by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, but that recommendations made “with an aggressive spirit and absolute cynicism” would be rejected as such.

Uruguay’s Laura Dupuy Lasserre, President of the UN Human Rights Council, explained that the acceptance or rejection of specific recommendations “is a sovereign decision” of each Member State.

“The acceptance (of a recommendation) is a political commitment that each state assumes… Of course, follow through (by the government) is then expected so that the international community can continue to provide vigilance” on each specific issue, she explained.

Of the 148 recommendations made, Venezuela accepted 95, rejected 38, and left 15 for further discussion in a follow-up session scheduled for March 2012.

According to the Deputy Foreign Minister, 75 of the 95 recommendations accepted are already being implemented in the Bolivarian Republic. “The government of Venezuela is proud to report that 80% of the observations and recommendations made by brother and sister nations are already being carried out, meaning that we are advancing in the right direction and doing so by our own free will”, Porras said on Tuesday.

“Of course, there was no shortage of those who came here with unfounded, disrespectful, and interventionist affirmations, which they attempted to disguise as ‘recommendations’, comments that not only have nothing to do with Venezuelan reality but lack a genuine interest in promoting Human Rights”.

“It doesn’t surprise us”, continued Porras, “that said accusations come from the same old empires that have a very peculiar way of defending human rights – bombing countries and slaughtering innocent men and women, applying criminal economic blockades against people who struggle for independence, and financing political destabilization and terrorism in an attempt to impose their will on, and to take control of, the natural resources of victim nations”.

The UN review process, Porras explained, helped to “relegate to the sidelines those who come here looking to impose their policy of double-speak and double-standards, manipulating the Human Rights discourse so as to continue stepping on those peoples who seek to live independently”.

The diplomat added that his country was the permanent victim of “unfounded criticisms” because is “defends the truth and does not, will not, remain silent when it comes to denouncing the blatant disregard for the people, to denouncing imperialism and war, and to defending just causes across the world, peace and brotherhood among all nations”.

Commenting on the results of the Human Rights review, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the process had resulted in “a resounding victory for the truth, a resounding victory for the Bolivarian Revolution and for the Venezuelan people”.

“We are very pleased with the results of this process”, said Chavez, because Venezuela “is a country in which, some 13 years ago, we began a truly intense battle for the recuperation and defense of Human Rights”.

The Bolivarian Revolution came to power in 1998 after Chavez won the first of many electoral victories spearheaded by the Venezuelan people. A year later, a new constitution was written and approved by voters which incorporated a number of important internationally- recognized elements of the struggle for Human Rights including social, economic, and cultural inclusion.

Opposition Intentions

While opposition media outlets and anti-Chavez politicians celebrated the critiques made by the US and its allies, Venezuela’s top Human Rights official questioned the use of the debates to discredit ongoing attempts to democratize Venezuelan society.

“The objective of this (UPE) process is to provide the Venezuelan people a trustworthy assessment of the true status of Human Rights in the country, free of political bias and proselytizing”, explained Venezuelan Human Rights Ombudsman Gabriela Ramirez.

Responding to opposition claims of “international condemnation”, Ramirez explained that, “Human Rights must be understood in their concrete form and within the context that they are exercised”.

“Regrettably for our country”, she concluded, “the Human Rights discourse has been tremendously politicized and become a bastion from which certain political sectors (of the opposition) discredit the country’s democratic institutions, perverting the real essence of Human Rights and causing a great deal of harm to the Venezuelan people”.

Source: Correo del Orinoco

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