Chavez rejects report citing rights violations

Chavez rejects report citing rights violations
# 26 February 2010 01:17 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that Venezuela should boycott the Organization of American States’ human rights body, saying the panel wrongly accused his government of political repression, APA reports citing Associated Press.

Chavez took issue with a report issued this week by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which cited widespread human rights violations in Venezuela. The socialist leader called the 300-page report "pure garbage" and described the commission’s president, Santiago Canton, as "excrement."

"We should prepare to denounce the agreement in which Venezuela joined ... this terrible Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and leave it," Chavez said during a televised address.

Local rights activists applauded the account issued by the rights committee, saying it sheds light on widespread rights abuses.

The report released Wednesday at OAS headquarters in Washington complains of a lack of independence for Venezuela’s judiciary, the closing of news media outlets that are critical of the government, and political discrimination and repression under Chavez.

"We don’t recognize the commission as an impartial institution," said Gabriela Ramirez, the Venezuelan government’s top rights guarantor. Ramirez said the report incorrectly concludes that "the Venezuelan state threatens democracy and human rights."

The report strongly condemned what it called "a trend toward the use of criminal charges to punish people exercising their right to demonstrate or protest against government policies," adding that more than 2,200 people have been indicted on criminal charges stemming from their participation in protests in recent years.

Carlos Correa, a leader of the Venezuelan human rights group Espacio Publico, welcomed the report. "It makes the violations that are occurring in Venezuela more visible" and should attract the attention of the international community, he said.

The report carries more weight than statements from independent rights watchdogs, because it "comes from an institution made up of the hemisphere’s own states," Correa added.
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