The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over the years has been reduced to a complete joke as some of the member states of the Council have a horrendous record of Human Rights and have no right to comment on the Human Rights records of other countries. The credibility of the UNHRC has taken a severe beating with the United States walking out halfway through its term as it raised concerns over the Council’s lack of reforms and continued anti-Israel stance. Whatever little credibility that the UNHRC had managed to retain, further eroded as Venezuela, a country with one of the worst Humans Rights records, was elected to the Council and was given a seat at the table to judge human Rights records of other countries.
Venezuela is in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its history as years of socialism has bankrupted the country with the current President Nicolas Maduro metamorphosing into a Dictator and carrying out political killings of the opposition leaders even as the citizens are forced to eat rats and hares to survive thanks to the hyperinflation. Venezuela sits on the largest oil reserve in the world but in a sad state of affairs, the oil-rich country is in a situation wherein over 80% of its population is below the poverty line. Since the past 1 year, over 3 million people have migrated out of the country as adequate medicine and three meals are being viewed as luxuries in Venezuela. Needless to say, Venezuela has a shameful Human Rights record as during the first half of 2017, more than 120 people were killed, around 1,958 were injured and more than 5,000 were detained amid mass protests.
‘Nights of Terror’ revealed how Venezuelan security forces and government-sponsored civilian armed groups have violently broken into people’s homes as a way of intimidating them against taking part in demonstrations or any other form of protest. 41 people have been the victims of Maduro’s regime in early 2019 as they protested against his government as Maduro carried out six extrajudicial executions. Over 50 countries recognize Guaido, Maduro’s chief opponent as the President of Venezuela with the US leading the push to remove Maduro. Maduro’s insecurity has only further compounded as his regime hasn’t even spared innocent kids. According to the Venezuelan organization, Foro Penal, 988 people were arbitrarily detained between 21 and 31 January 2019. Among those detained were 137 children and adolescents, of whom 10 are still in detention. There have also been allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. As of 31 January 2019, Foro Penal estimated the number of people detained for political reasons was 942. Although many have since been released, most are facing trial.
The UNHRC continues to be in the news for all the wrong reasons as recently, Saudi Arabia gained the membership of the Council despite the country’s utter disregard for the country’s women population. The gruesome murder of Khashoggi only highlights the fact that Saudi Arabia should have been the last country to be allowed entry into the Council. The country’s leading Human Rights activist Raif Badawi has been jailed since 2012 on the charge of “insulting Islam through electronic channels”. It is appalling how countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are granted memberships to the Human Rights Council.
Venezuela’s membership to the UNHRC is nothing but a slap in the to the country’s countless victims who’ve been tortured and murdered by government forces, as well as the millions who have fled largely because of a humanitarian emergency the government unleashed. The Human Rights Council continues to abandon human rights and it seems that it is now in the business of protecting dictators and war crimes. Even Libya was granted the membership along with Venezuela despite the former having camps that torture African migrants.
Ironically, Venezuela won the seat on the same day that opposition activist Edmundo Rada was found dead in a Caracas slum after being shot and set on fire. The UNHRC has successfully managed to become a front for the Dictators to improve their reputation and help them escape from their war crimes. The UNHRC must be disbanded in the light of the recent events if it still fails to take up large-scale reforms.