A group of UN independent experts on Thursday asked Venezuela's government to provide a clear answer to allegations of arbitrary detention and excessive force against journalists, media workers and demonstrators during the country's recent protests. The group, which included Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue, Chair Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention Mads Andenas and Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association Maina Kiai [official profiles], stressed [press release] that the violence needs to be investigated and that those responsible need to be held accountable. They went on to state that constructive dialogue could not begin if authorities continued to intimidate students, journalists and political leaders. UN group members expressed their readiness to visit Venezuela and aid in such talks, calling on the government to respond to their request.
This request comes only a week after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] condemned [JURIST report] the recent political violence in Venezuela, and urged all parties involved to move towards meaningful dialogue in hopes of resolving the situation. The statement by Pillay came shortly after the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on [JURIST report] all parties involved in the protests to open dialogue to resolve the situation in response to three deaths that had occurred earlier that week. Such violent demonstrations have been partially motivated by Venezuela's current economic difficulties [BBC backgrounder] and disdain towards current President Nicolas Maduro [official website, in Spanish]. In September Venezuela withdrew [JURIST report] from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights despite criticism from activists and calls by the UN [JURIST report] for the country to remain a member. In August the Supreme Court of Venezuela dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] by candidate Henrique Capriles challenging the results of the presidential election that placed Maduro as the successor to Hugo Chavez [JURIST news archive].