September 5, 2017 / 9:31 AM / 3 months ago

Venezuelan President Maduro will not go to U.N. rights forum

GENEVA (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will not address the U.N. Human Rights Council next week, contrary to what had been announced, the United Nations and his country’s diplomatic mission said on Tuesday.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela August 25, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Maduro, accused of trampling on human rights and democracy in Venezuela, had been expected to address the opening day of a three-week United Nations Human Rights Council session on Sept. 11.

“The president is not coming,” a Venezuelan diplomat in Geneva told Reuters on Tuesday.

Rolando Gomez, Council spokesman, said in a statement: ”Please note that per information the HRC Secretariat just received, President Maduro of Venezuela will not address the Human Rights Council.

“Instead, (Foreign) Minister (Jorge) Arreaza Montserrat has been scheduled to address the Council on the opening day of the session.” 

In a report last week, the U.N. said that Venezuela’s security forces had committed extensive and apparently deliberate human rights violations in crushing anti-government protests and that democracy was “barely alive”.

The actions indicated “a policy to repress political dissent and instil fear”, the U.N. human rights office said in a report that called for further investigation and accountability.

Maduro, whose country is currently one of the Council’s 47 member states, addressed the Geneva forum in Nov. 2015.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Andrew Roche

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