U.N. Welcomes Maduro After Declaring Him Guilty of ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Nicolás Maduro
DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations Human Rights Council welcomed Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro to deliver remarks at its annual regular session on Monday, despite the fact U.N. human rights experts have accused Maduro of committing crimes against humanity.

“Crimes against humanity” is an elaborately defined crime that includes most human rights abuses committed outside of the context of war, including murder, rape, torture, and slavery. A top investigator at the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report late last year that “found reasonable grounds” to accuse Maduro and his socialist regime of crimes against humanity.

The report did not stop the United Nations from allowing Venezuela to remain on the Human Rights Council. While Maduro has not been Venezuela’s legitimate, constitutional head of state since January 2019, the United Nations has refused to recognize the country’s true president, Juan Guaidó, as wielding power.

The Human Rights Council also hosts several other rogue states credibly accused of human rights atrocities, including China, Russia, Cuba, Libya, and Pakistan.

Maduro used his time to address the Council – about ten minutes – to condemn the United States and urge the world to “change the system of economic, capitalist, predator organizations” in light of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. He also claimed that he had managed to bring Venezuela’s coronavirus cases under control through several dubious, uncorroborated methods he would “humbly” share with the world.

“The grave and unexpected circumstances of Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] that humanity faces demands of world leaders a greater commitment to the work for a better future, common and shared,” Maduro told the Council. “An emergency of such a magnitude has put in evidence the need to accept health as a fundamental human right. Multilateralism is showing it is the only path available to overcome global difficulties and to construct better living conditions for peoples.”

Maduro applauded the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) – a U.N. body widely decried for hiding the true threat of the pandemic and allowing the Chinese Communist Party to spread unchecked misinformation – for its role in the pandemic, and applauded himself for allegedly controlling the pandemic in Venezuela.

The Maduro regime claims to have documented only 136,068 cases and 1,316 deaths attributable to coronavirus since the pandemic began, compared to millions of cases in neighboring Colombia and Brazil. While Maduro has claimed that his use of “rectal ozone therapy” – which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against – and other “miracle” cures are responsible for those statistics, polling within Venezuela shows that as many as 87 percent of people told by their doctors they have Chinese coronavirus do not receive PCR tests – and thus do not show up in official statistics.

Maduro also used his time before the Human Rights Council to reject any investigation into Venezuela’s dire human rights situation.

“I reiterate that the Venezuelan state will decidedly work with the actors of this Human Rights Council, just as I ratify that we will not accept the intervention of any inquisitor mechanism against our nation, Venezuela, that seeks to use the just cause of human rights as a political tool for a government, or a regime, change in our country,” Maduro asserted. “Those who think that Venezuela will diminish the cooperation achieved with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as a consequence of these ideological provocations of a small group of governments are wrong.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights found “reasonable grounds” to believe Maduro guilty of crimes against humanity in a report published in September.

“The Mission found reasonable grounds to believe that Venezuelan authorities and security forces have since 2014 planned and executed serious human rights violations,” chief investigator Marta Valinas said at the time, “some of which — including arbitrary killings and the systematic use of torture — amount to crimes against humanity.”

“Far from being isolated acts, these crimes were coordinated and committed pursuant to State policies, with the knowledge or direct support of commanding officers and senior government officials,” Valinas said. “Security forces used lethal force against the victim when it was not strictly unavoidable to protect lives. Security forces also used less-lethal weapons in a lethal manner, which resulted in the death of the demonstrators.”
The high commissioner herself, former Chilean socialist president Michelle Bachelet, has also accused Maduro of “grave human rights violations.”

The International Criminal Court at the Hague (ICC), the top world court to process human rights crimes, also issued a statement in December finding Maduro similarly suspect of committing human rights atrocities. The ICC stated that “a reasonable basis to believe” Maduro is guilty of crimes against humanity existed, opening the door to Maduro being prosecuted by the court. The ICC has jurisdiction against individuals accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

The official legal definition of “crimes against humanity” requires a finding of “a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack” featuring at least one of a long list of crimes, including murder, “extermination,” rape, torture, slavery, or “other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

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