Remarks by Interim U.S. Permanent Representative Michael J. Fitzpatrick Marking Human Rights Day

So, too, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad Al Hussein.  In his November 12 address to the UN Human Rights Council, he raised serious concerns about the independence of the judiciary in Venezuela, the impartiality of judges and prosecutors, and the pressures they face in handling cases of political prisoners. He reiterated the Council’s concerns about what he called “intimidation, threats and attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers,” and urged the Government to promptly lift the “broad” state of emergency in 24 municipalities that suspends a number of human rights protections.

Dialogue among all parties in Venezuela is important to address the social and economic challenges facing the Venezuelan people.  The international community, including the United States, stands ready to help facilitate this dialogue.  To begin this dialogue, both institutional and political, we call on the Venezuelan government to release all those imprisoned for their political beliefs or activities — for the criminalization of political thought and dissent runs clearly contrary to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it has no place in our Americas.

And for those just elected to a new majority in Venezuela, a word or two of caution, about their new-found responsibilities.  Eleanor Roosevelt, that great defender of human rights, once warned the people of my nation, quote: “Democracy requires both discipline and hard work.  It is not easy for individuals to govern themselves … It is one thing to gain freedom, but no one can give you the right to self-government.  This you must earn for yourself by long discipline”, unquote.

Full statement available at: http://www.usoas.usmission.gov/hrday_pc/