Venezuela says U.N. chief is lying about country's 'crimes against humanity'

By Brooks Hays  |  Sept. 11, 2017 at 3:56 PM
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Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Venezuela has accused the United Stations of lying about the country's human rights record.

On Monday, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the United Nation's human rights chief, told council members that his office's investigation of Venezuela uncovered possible "crimes against humanity."

"There is a very real danger that tensions will further escalate, with the government crushing democratic institutions and critical voices -- including through criminal proceedings against opposition leaders, recourse to arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force, and ill-treatment of detainees, which in some cases amounts to torture," Hussein said.

Last month, the United Nation's human rights council issued a report on human rights abuses in the South American nation.

In response to the report and Hussein's most recent remarks, Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela's foreign minister, said the U.N. chief must "cease his aggression against Venezuela."

Arreaza said the council's report was "full of lies," and that the body was using human rights as a "political weapon."

According to state-sponsored news outlet, teleSUR, Arreaza received applause for his rebuke of the United Nation's allegations.

Despite his criticism of the U.N., Arreaza said his country was prepared to cooperation with the human rights council and respect the body's procedural mechanisms.

Venezuela and its president, Nicolas Maduro, have faced heavy criticism for the abolition of the country's constitutional democracy. Europe and the U.S. say Maduro has installed a dictatorship and squashed free speech.

Anti-government protests have turned deadly in recent months, with more than 121 killed in protest-related violence since April 1.

"[The] majority of these deaths can be directly attributed to the violent actions of anti-government groups," Arreaza said.

U.N. investigators found the opposite to be true. Last month's report blamed government forces and pro-government groups for the majority of the deaths.

In his remarks on Monday, however, Arreaza said unrest has subsided.

He said the opposition is "back on the path of rule of law and democracy, we will see dialogue emerging thanks to the mediation of our friends."

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