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Venezuela closes UN human rights office days after detaining lawyer | Venezuela

The Venezuelan government has ordered the local UN human rights office to cease operations and given its staff 72 hours to leave work, accusing it of promoting opposition to the South American country.

Foreign Minister Ivan Gil announced the decision at a press conference in Caracas on Thursday. Gil’s announcement came on the heels of the detention of human rights lawyer Rocio San Miguel, which sparked a wave of criticism in Venezuela and abroad.

The South American country’s government announced that it had decided to “suspend the activities of the Office of the Technical Advisor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and completely revise the terms of technical cooperation.”

The government said the UN Human Rights Office must correct its “colonial, abusive and infringing attitudes”, saying it had played an “inappropriate role” in the country and accused it of assassination attempts. , accused it of supporting impunity for those involved in coups, conspiracies and other conspiracies.

The Venezuelan government regularly accuses opposition members of plotting a takeover or assassination of President Nicolás Maduro, but opposition members and their representatives vehemently deny all accusations.

“We regret this announcement and are considering next steps. We will continue to work with authorities and other stakeholders,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office. Stated. “Our fundamental principle is and always will be the promotion and protection of the human rights of the Venezuelan people.”

Venezuelan state television on Wednesday harshly criticized comments made by Michael Fakhri, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, who just completed a visit to Venezuela. In his statement, Fakhri said the government’s food programs do not address the root causes of hunger and are susceptible to political influence.

San Miguel was detained Friday at an airport near Caracas while he and his daughter waited for a flight to Miami. Authorities did not take her into custody until Sunday, and as of Wednesday her lawyer had not been allowed to see her.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced earlier this week that she was being held at Helicoid Prison, a notorious facility for political prisoners.

San Miguel’s daughter, ex-husband, two brothers and ex-partner were also detained after the arrest. Of these, only her ex-partner is still in custody.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday expressed “deep concern” over San Miguel’s detention.

In a tweet, the agency called for “her immediate release” and respect for her right to legal defense. About an hour before Gill’s announcement, the United Nations agency called for “due process guarantees, including her right to legal representation” to be respected in her case.

The United Nations Office was established in Caracas in September 2019.

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