UN holds minute's silence for Chavez

2013-03-06 14:05
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Hugo Chavez - a controversial life

2013-03-06 12:37

Listen to a 2007 interview between seasoned American journalist Barbara Walters and the controversial (now late) Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and see pictures from his life.VIEW

Geneva - The United Nations' main human rights forum observed a minute's silence on Wednesday for the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez whose record it has often criticised over the years.

The UN Human Rights Council has voiced repeated concerns about freedom of expression, lack of independence of the judiciary, restrictions on activists, and arbitrary detentions in Venezuela under Chavez who died on Tuesday.

The ambassador of Cuba - which has declared three days of mourning for its ally Chavez - led diplomats in Geneva in observing the minute's silence.

"On behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean states, we wish to express our deep solidarity with the people and government of Venezuela, particularly the family members and friends of Commandante Chavez," Ambassador Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo said.

"Chavez was key in Latin America's advance towards its second independence. He worked tirelessly not only for his people, but for the betterment of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean," she said.

Under Chavez, Venezuela achieved most of the ambitious UN targets for improving health and education, known as the Millennium Development Goals, Cuba's envoy said.

Arbitrary detention

"Chavez has not died, he didn't enter history yesterday, he entered history a decade ago when he began the Bolivarian Revolution and the struggle for real Latin American integration," she said.

Poland's Remigiusz Achilles Henczel, who holds the Council's rotating presidency, said: "We reiterate on behalf of the Council our condolences to the people and government of Venezuela at the death of Hugo Chavez."

Venezuela became one of the council's 47 members this year, under a system where member countries are selected by the UN General Assembly. Western states expect it to vote along similar lines of Cuba on issues such as Syria and North Korea, now that its Caribbean ally is no longer a member.

The Council, which is holding its main annual four-week session, on Tuesday discussed cases of arbitrary detention, including that of Venezuelan judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni Mora.

Afiuni has been held since December 2009 and was raped in detention, independent UN experts said last month. She was jailed after allowing the release of a businessman charged with subverting currency controls, saying his pre-trial detention was longer than generally allowed under Venezuelan law.

"Judge Afiuni's situation is an emblematic case of reprisal for having co-operated with one of the UN's human rights organs," Margaret Sekaggya, UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, said in a 14 February statement.

Venezuela's delegation on Tuesday denounced her "fraudulent activities and refusal to appear before the court".

Read more on:    un  |  hugo chavez  |  venezuela

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