UN chief Ban Ki-moon and human rights high commissioner Zeid Hussein are being called upon to investigate how their officials allowed Venezuela to commit “fraud on a massive scale” to influence today’s UN review of the country’s human rights record by using hundreds of “front groups” to submit comments favorable to the regime, a watchdog group reported.
While “an astronomical amount of 519 supposedly non-governmental organizations” submitted comments for Venezuela’s review, only 54 commented on Uganda, 26 on Syria, 23 for South Sudan, and 20 on Zimbabwe, according to a new report published by UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental human rights monitoring group.
Although “critiques by genuine NGOs do appear, they are overwhelmed by an unprecedented amount of submissions by fraudulent ‘NGOs’ that, if they do exist, are either controlled by the government of Venezuela, or by its allies Cuba and Bolivia,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch and an international lawyer.
“This is fraud committed on a massive scale,” said Neuer, as Venezuela’s foreign minister appeared before the UN Human Rights Council this morning in Geneva, Switzerland, to present her government’s case. The UNHRC audits each nation every five years for its Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
“Venezuela used hundreds of front groups to hijack the United Nations database and compilation summary of NGO submissions, and turn it into a propaganda sheet for the regime of President Nicolas Maduro,” said Neuer.
The UPR is not binding on anyone “but does have an impact because it’s a megaphone, a podium, which does shape the way people think and it’s a source of legitimacy,” said Neuer.
“Among the 500 groups absurdly praising Venezuela’s alleged human rights accomplishments include the Bolivian Baseball Association, the Cuban Federation of Canine Sports, and the ‘Association for Obvious Things,’ a group in Slovenia that hailed Venezuela’s record on combating hunger,” said the UN Watch report.
“The result is that the review today of Venezuela’s human rights record is being conducted based on a massive amount of manifestly false information,” concludes the report.
Under UN rules, the world body is only supposed to gather submissions that provide “credible and reliable information.” The report calls on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Hussein to investigate “how and why their officials failed to screen out submissions that clearly do not meet this standard.”
“Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner Zeid should declared Venezuela guity of conempt for the Human Rights Council on which it sits,” said Neuer.
Venezuela is on the Human Rights Council, of course!
Good to know the UN will accept submissions from the Bolivian Baseball Association on human rights in Venezuela. Very credible.