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Maduro announces return of UN rights office to Venezuela

CARACAS (AFP) – President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday that a United Nations (UN) human rights office would begin operating in Venezuela once again, after it was suspended and its staff ordered to leave in February.

The change comes as Maduro is under fire at home and abroad over his leftist government’s human rights record as he cracks down on dissent while seeking a third term in power.

He has in particular drawn criticism for preventing a widely popular opposition leader from running against him in July elections he had pledged would be free and fair.

Maduro made the announcement on Tuesday alongside head of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan, who is investigating Venezuela for possible crimes against humanity in a violent crackdown on protests back in 2017.

“I have received the proposal to once again invite the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, to be in our country, in Venezuela,” Maduro said, standing next to Khan at the presidential palace in Caracas.

“I agree. Let’s overcome our differences, the conflict that we had,” he added. “I am ready to receive the envoy Volker Turk.”

It is not clear when the staff of the UN rights agency will return to Venezuela. The order for them to leave the country within 72 hours came in February, two days after authorities detained prominent activist Rocio San Miguel.

President of the Bolivarian National Assembly of Venezuela Jorge Rodriguez accompanied by International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan and Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab during a meeting at the National Assembly headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela. PHOTO: AFP
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