Grave human rights crimes may have been committed by Venezuelan authorities as they crack down on political opponents amid mass protests, UN Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned on Monday.
Addressing the UN Human Rights Council, Zeid urged the body to set up an international investigation into the killings, arbitrary detention and torture that his office described last month in a report.
“My investigation suggests the possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed, which can only be confirmed by a subsequent criminal investigation,’’ he said.
Venezuela is currently among the 47 members of the Human Rights Council.
Zeid told the assembled diplomats that they should think about “the need to exclude from this body states involved in the most egregious violations of human rights.”
The UN rights chief talk before Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was scheduled to take the floor in Geneva.
The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley had criticised Arreaza’s planned appearance at the rights body, arguing that it “makes a mockery of the institution.”
The UN Human Rights Office said in its report that out of 124 deaths that were investigated by Venezuela’s Attorney General’s Office between April and July, “73 can be linked to security forces and pro-Maduro collectives.’’
The troubled South American nation has been engulfed by protests since April, as Maduro has moved to consolidate power and to weaken parliament. (dpa/NAN)