, Geneva, Switzerland, Sep 5 – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has cancelled a scheduled appearance at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) next week, a UN spokesman said Tuesday, without giving a reason.
“Please note that per information the HRC Secretariat just received, President Maduro of Venezuela will not address the Human Rights Council. Instead (Foreign) Minister Arreaza Montserrat has been scheduled to address the Council on the opening day of the session” on Monday, council spokesman Rolando Gomez said in an email.
Rights activists had mounted a swift condemnation of the planned appearance by Maduro, who is accused of dismantling democracy in his nation, including a violent crackdown on the opposition.
Speaking in Geneva shortly before the appearance was scrapped, Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth said that “the idea of President Maduro coming to the UN to speak about human rights is laughable”.
Roth added that council members needed to denounce Maduro publicly in order to avoid “an embarrassment” for the UN’s top human rights body.
Maduro appeared at the council in November 2015, in a widely condemned speech.
International powers accuse Maduro of taking over state institutions in order to resist opposition pressure for him to quit, amid an economic crisis that has caused shortages of food and medicine.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said last week that democracy in the country was “barely alive”.