The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, says the Venezuelan government is “destroying human rights and democracy,” and President Nicolas Maduro is “turning that formerly prosperous democratic nation into a rusting dictatorship.”
Haley also decried a “campaign of violence and intimidation” by Venezuela’s government, during a side event organized by the United States on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
In the first visit by a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. to the 47-member Human Rights Council, Haley insisted “the Maduro regime has purposefully starved and deliberately hurt its own people.”
She said many things could be done to help Venezuelans, “but they really only need one thing: a free election.”
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In a brief address to the council, Haley urged reform of the 47-member body, criticized its “chronic anti-Israel bias” and said “no human rights violator” should be allowed a seat.
Haley said Venezuela should withdraw from the Human Rights Council if it can’t address the problem.
She also indicated the U.S. sees “areas for significant strengthening” of the council, and was “looking carefully” at whether it would still participate.
Haley took about four minutes to deliver her highly-anticipated remarks to the council as it opened its three-week summer session on Tuesday.
Haley also said it is “essential that this council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility.”
She called on the council to adopt “the strongest possible resolutions on the critical human rights situations in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Belarus and Ukraine, and that it follow up to prevent further human rights violations and abuses in those countries.”
Meanwhile, a top civil liberties defender urged the United States to “practice what it preaches” on human rights after Haley addressed the U.N.’s main human rights body.
The American Civil Liberties Union says in a statement that it’s “hard to take Ambassador Haley seriously on U.S. support for human rights in light of Trump Administration actions like the Muslim ban and immigration crackdowns.”
The ACLU called on the U.S. to make human rights a priority at home, and then could it “begin to credibly demand the same of other countries abroad.”