Venezuelan leader defends pullout from rights accord


Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - Page 7

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday defended his government’s decision to withdraw from a regional human rights accord, saying it serves the interests of the US.

Venezuela was to officially pull out of the American Convention on Human Rights yesterday, making good on a decision made by late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez last year.

“It is the correct, fair decision that defends our fatherland from any attempt to dishonor it,” Maduro told a news conference. “It is the best decision that our commander [Chavez] could have taken.”

Local and international human rights group have urged Maduro to reconsider his predecessor’s conclusion.

The convention allows individuals who exhaust all legal avenues in their countries to petition the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which then decides whether to refer the case to a court in Costa Rica.

Maduro said the court and commission had “degenerated, they think they are a supranational power, they have power over legitimate governments.”

The commission is held “captive by the interests of the US State Department,” he said.

The US and Canada have not ratified the convention.

On the eve of Venezuela’s withdrawal, representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles were due to petition the commission on Monday over his claims of fraud in his defeat to Maduro in the April 14 presidential election.

From yesterday, the court would not be allowed to review allegations of rights violations in Venezuela, though previous cases will remain valid.

“This decision is an insult to the victims of human rights violations and places future generations of Venezuelans at risk,” Amnesty International Americas Program deputy director Guadalupe Marengo said last week.

The court has condemned Venezuela 15 times for cases of extrajudicial killings by police and soldiers, violations of freedom of speech and baseless firing of government employees.

Chavez decided to withdraw from the convention after the San Jose-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the “inhumane and degrading treatment” of Raul Diaz Pena while he spent six years in prison. He had been jailed for his part in bomb attacks against diplomatic missions of Spain and Colombia in 2003.