Pillay urges Venezuela to reconsider withdrawal from American Convention on Human Rights

GENEVA (11 September 2012) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday strongly urged Venezuela to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the American Convention on Human Rights, warning that it could be a serious setback for human rights protection in Venezuela and the region as a whole.

“The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have not only had an extraordinarily positive impact on human rights in the region, but also served as pioneering examples which showed the rest of the world how vital and effective regional human rights bodies can be,” Pillay said.

“There have also been important synergies between the regional bodies and the international human rights machinery, including my office,” she added, pointing out that Venezuela’s move runs directly counter to the resolutions recently adopted by the UN Human Rights Council aiming at the enhancement of cooperation and dialogue between international and regional human rights mechanisms.

“Strong regional mechanisms play a key role in reinforcing the international human rights system,” she said. “However, my concern is less for the bodies themselves than for the people whose human rights will be affected. I fear that a vital layer of human rights protection for Venezuelans – and potentially for other Latin Americans as well – will be stripped away if this decision is carried out, and they will be left far more vulnerable to abuses with fewer remedies available. I therefore urge Venezuela to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the American Convention on Human Rights.”

The High Commissioner called on all States in the Americas region to continue to cooperate with regional and international human rights mechanisms and to refrain from taking any steps to weaken one of the oldest and most effective regional human rights protection mechanisms.

“The Inter-American Court and Inter-American Commission have played an important role throughout the region’s democratic history, perhaps now more than ever, in protecting the rights of vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples, human rights defenders, journalists and others,” she said. “Governments and civil society must continue to be vigilant to ensure that the hard-won human rights gains in the Americas region are not squandered.”