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U.N. signals concern over renewed violence in Venezuela

The U.N. is concerned about renewed violence and mass detentions in Venezuela, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday.
By JC Finley   |   May 9, 2014 at 1:13 PM   |   Comments

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GENEVA, Switzerland, May 9 (UPI) -- The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern Friday about renewed violence in Venezuela and the detention of more than 200 youth movement protesters.

Four protest camps in eastern Caracas were broken up by Venezuelan security forces early Thursday after the government claimed the camps were being used to launch "violent attacks."

OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said his agency was "particularly concerned at the reported excessive use of force by the authorities in response to protests."

Protesters were camping outside the U.N. Development Program offices and elsewhere in Caracas, Colville said, when Venezuelan security forces cleared the camps.

Subsequent clashes over the arrests led to injuries and one policeman's death.

"We unequivocally condemn all violence by all sides in Venezuela. We are particularly concerned at the reported excessive use of force by the authorities in response to protests.

"We therefore reiterate the High Commissioner's call to the Government to ensure that people are not penalised for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression and for sustained and inclusive, peaceful dialogue based on Venezuela's human rights obligations."

Anti-government demonstrations began in Venezuela in February, demanding an end to goods shortages, inflation and high crime. President Nicolas Maduro's government has blamed foreign-backed "fascists" for the unrest while the opposition has claimed the security forces were to blame for the violence. Protest-related incidents have resulted in 42 deaths.

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