UN Clash: Venezuela, Cuba Fail To Stop Appeal To Expel Maduro From UNHRC
GENEVA, September 24, 2020 — Representatives of Cuba and Venezuela tried to block an activist's testimony today before the UN Human Rights Council after he cited the findings of UN investigators that the Maduro government of Venezuela was guilty of crimes against humanity, including widespread and systematic killings, torture and sexual violence aimed at suppressing dissent.
Despite repeated interruptions, Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, an independent Swiss non-governmental human rights group based in Geneva, managed to call for the removal of Venezuela from the 47-nation body.
"By what logic, and by what morality," asked Neuer, "can a convicted murderer, torturer and rapist — convicted by your own investigators — remain a member of this Human Rights Council?"
UN Watch led a 10-year campaign at the United Nations to hold Venezuela accountable for gross and systematic human rights violations, culminating in last year's UNHRC resolution and this week's 411-page report on the regime's crimes.
Debate Transcript: UN Watch, Venezuela & Cuba
Following is the video and transcript of UN Watch director Hillel Neuer's testimony before the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, September 24, 2020, with interruptions by the delegates from Venezuela and Cuba. The debate took place under the UNHRC's Agenda Item 3, entitled "Promotion and protection of all human rights." Click for video.
United Nations Watch (Hillel Neuer):
Today we come with one question.
Given that this Council’s Fact Finding Mission has just found that the Venezuelan Government, state agents, and groups working with them, have systematically committed arbitrary killings, torture, and sexual violence, aimed at suppressing political opposition and generally terrorizing the population;
Given that these crimes were found to be highly coordinated pursuant to state policies, and part of a widespread and systematic course of conduct, thus amounting to "crimes against humanity";
Given that the investigators found that President Maduro and the Ministers of the Interior and of Defence were aware of the crimes, gave orders, coordinated activities, and supplied resources in furtherance of the plans and policies... [Venezuela interrupts]
President: Excuse me, excuse me. Just one minute. Venezuela wants to make a point.
Venezuela: The speaker is out of order. We are dealing with Item 3 General Debate.
President: Well, we are now under Item 3. Under Item 3, we are talking about thematic issues. Certain countries can be mentioned by way of example. I would give the floor back to the speaker now, under the condition of taking into account what I just said. Thank you very much.
UN Watch: Referring to civil and political rights, given that investigators found that President Maduro and this official furthered the plans and policies under which the crimes were committed;
Given all of the above, we ask this Council: By what logic, and by what morality, can a convicted murderer, torturer and rapist — convicted by your own investigators — remain a member of this Human Rights Council?
We now have a petition to the United Nations, found at unwatch.org/ExpelMaduro.
In the name of National Assembly President Juan Guaido, exiled Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma... [Cuba bangs on the table, interrupts]
President: Excuse me, excuse me. I give the floor to Cuba.
Cuba: Once again, this NGO is politicizing the Council and he is using abusive language. We wish to recall that this is a clear violation of the provisions of Resolution 60/251 which states that the work of the Council will be guided by universality, non-selectivity, impartiality with a view to promoting and protecting human rights through dialogue and cooperation. This is not a matter to be discussed under Item 3. We cannot question the candidacies of member states, it is a lack of respect for the Council. We agree with what Venezuela is saying, and we call upon you to prevent the speaker from abusing the Council.
President: I am hearing different voices but everybody should respect appropriate language and appropriate dealing with each other. I also want to recall what I said earlier on, which is that this is Item 3. We are talking about thematic issues and countries should only be mentioned if they serve as an example for a thematic issue. Having said that, I will now give the floor back to the speaker.
UN Watch: Invoking Article 8 of the founding Charter of this Council, Resolution 60/251, and in the name of 160,000 people who have signed this petition, when will the United Nations remove the Maduro government from this Human Rights Council?