United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Thursday that Venezuela's pullout of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR Court) would be devastating for the international organization. Spokesperson Rupert Colville said the move will be not good for Venezuela either.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez accused the IACHR Court this week of supporting terrorism for its ruling in favour of Raúl Díaz, charged with planting bombs in the Embassy of Spain and the consulate of Colombia in Caracas, and he contended that his country would leave the organization out of dignity.
It is very sad seeing a country leaving the Court, Colville lamented, adding that the organization plays a key role in the transition to democracy.
The IACHR has come under intense criticism from some Latin American leaders that increasingly describe it as a pawn of Washington. Allies of Venezuela including Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua have accused the IACHR of improperly weighing in on disputes still being heard in domestic courts and working to undermine their governments.
Venezuela is withdrawing from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, out of dignity, and we accuse them before the world of being unfit to call themselves a human rights group, Chavez said during a military ceremony.
IAHRC ruled Venezuela had violated the rights of Raul Diaz arguing jail conditions were deplorable. Diaz was sentenced to nine years in prison but fled to the United States after winning a conditional release.
Earlier this year, Chavez tasked a council of state made up of allies to study whether or not Venezuela should remain in the group.
The Costa Rica-based tribunal, part of the Washington-based Organization of American States, or OAS, has heard a series of cases accusing the Chavez government of authoritarianism and rights abuses during his 13-year rule.
Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, say the OAS body provides crucial protections for citizens in countries with weak judiciaries or a history of authoritarian leaders.
Opposition politicians and activists say Chavez has routinely stamped on rights and harassed opponents during an increasingly autocratic rule.
Chavez, who is leading in polls ahead of a re-election bid on October 7, routinely scoffs at those accusations.
The court's sister organization, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has also been criticized for meddling in the affairs of its member nations. Brazil last year upbraided the group for urging a halt to the construction of a hydroelectric dam along a tributary to the Amazon River.
The OAS in June postponed the thorny issue of reforming the human rights commission for six months, an issue which has the organization divided.