United Nations, Oct 11 (EFE).- Chile and Costa Rica were elected to two of the 14 available spots on the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council, thus supplanting Venezuela, which had been on the council but was not reelected given that it is considered to be one of the world’s worst human rights offenders.
Two of the open spots were reserved for Latin American and Caribbean nations, and Chile received 144 votes, Costa Rica 134 and Venezuela 88 in the elections held in the 193-member UN General Assembly to round out the Geneva-based council with 14 new members for the 2023-2025 period.
Venezuela was hoping to be reelected to the council, but numerous human rights defense groups had called for UN member states to vote against Caracas due to the Nicolas Maduro government’s history of repression.
UN Human Rights Watch director Louis Charbonneau said that the General Assembly had “closed the door” on Venezuela and noted that there is evidence that Maduro and other top Venezuelan officials may be responsible for crimes against humanity.
“UN investigators have found evidence that Maduro and other officials may have been responsible for crimes against humanity against their own people,” Charbonneau said after the vote.
“A government facing these kinds of allegations has no business sitting on the UN’s top rights body. Now UN member states should seek ways to hold accountable those Venezuelan officials responsible for grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and torture,” he added.
The UN Independent International Mission for Venezuela last month accused that country’s civil and military intelligence services – known as Sebin and Dgcim, respectively – of committing crimes against humanity by repressing political dissidents on orders “from the highest level” of government.
In a report, those experts described, among other things, the torture and mistreatment suffered by dozens of people in Venezuelan intelligence services’ detention centers.
In addition, the Human Rights Council last week, with the opposition of the Maduro government, approved continuing to investigate and document human rights violations in the South American country.
Chile and Costa Rica will formally become part of the council as part of the Latin American and Caribbean contingent in January 2023, joining Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and Paraguay.
In the Asia and Pacific group, on Tuesday the General Assembly elected Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives and Vietnam to the council, with South Korea losing its bid to be reelected and Afghanistan also leaving the council, although its UN seat remains in the hands of the government toppled by the Taliban.
Vietnam’s candidacy was one of the most heavily questioned bids by human rights defense groups, who denounced that country’s suppression of basic civil and political rights.
The non-governmental organizations had also campaigned against Afghanistan, where violations of the rights of women and girls have become systematic under the Taliban.
Among the other regional groups, the candidates aspiring to election to the council did so without opposition, and thus the voting went smoothly although at a minimum each hopeful had to receive the support of a simple majority of the General Assembly.
Elected for Africa were Algeria, Morocco, South Africa and Sudan; for Eastern Europe the new members will be Georgia and Romania and for Western Europe Belgium and Germany will join the council.
The HRC was created in 2006 to replace the Human Rights Commission, which after 60 years of work had become mired in a legitimacy crisis marked by decisions viewed as partial, politicized and unequal.
The council, however, has also received much criticism for – among other things – having among its members countries accused of serious human rights violations.
In an almost unprecedented move, last April, the UN General Assembly decided to expel Russia from the HRC in response to the atrocities committed by its military in its invasion of neighboring Ukraine.