World, Americas

UN rights chief reiterates concerns over Venezuela

Recent US sanctions have severe impact on human rights in South American country, says Michelle Bachelet

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 09.09.2019
UN rights chief reiterates concerns over Venezuela


UN rights chief reiterated Monday her concerns over Venezuela's deteriorating human rights, economy and social situation which deepen with recent U.S. sanctions.

"Since the presentation of my report to this Council on July 5th, the human rights situation has continued to affect millions of people in Venezuela, with clear destabilizing impacts in the region," Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), said at 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

On July 5, a UN report urged Venezuela to take "immediate measures" to halt and remedy the "grave" violations of economic, social, civil, political and cultural rights documented in the country, before outflow of Venezuelan migrants and "the living conditions of those who remain will worsen".

Saying that the economy is experiencing "the most severe period" of hyperinflation the region has seen, Bachelet stressed that it is affecting the ability to purchase basic foods, medicine, and other essential goods.

"As of today, the minimum salary is equivalent to 2 dollars per month, in comparison with 7 dollars in June, meaning a family would need to earn the equivalent of 41 minimum monthly salaries just to cover the basic food basket," she said.

Reiterating her concerns over "the potentially severe impact" of U.S. sanctions on human rights in Venezuela, Bachelet also touched the difficulties more than 4.3 million Venezuelan refugees are suffering.

"... although I understand the need to adopt measures to guarantee safe, orderly, and regular migration, those measures should not be obstacles to access the countries, possibly resulting in increased irregular migration, and exacerbate the risks of becoming victims of various forms of violence and exploitation," she said, referring to the policy of neighboring countries and the U.S.' anti-migration policy in Central America.

Bachelet also said that her office will soon pay a visit to the 24 parliamentarians of opposition, who lost immunity after a Supreme Court request -- including the opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The UN official called on both the Venezuelan government and opposition to overcome their differences and prioritize negotiations, which she said is "the only way to overcome the current human rights crisis".

President Donald Trump's administration has been focusing on economic and diplomatic measures against President Nicolas Maduro, including imposing sanctions on him, his top officials, and several government departments as it seeks to ramp up pressure on him to step down.

After imposing sweeping sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil firm PDVSA in January, Trump issued an executive order last month freezing all assets in the U.S. belonging to the Venezuelan government in a significant escalation of tensions with Caracas.

Since the beginning of this year, Venezuela has been embroiled in political unrest as Maduro and Guaido engage in a power battle amid a dire economic crisis in the Latin American nation.

Nearly 5,000 people leave Venezuela every day due to instability and uncertainty amid the economic and political crisis, and 3 million Venezuelans have left since 2015, according to the UN refugee agency.

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