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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Venezuela

16 August 2013

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today completed its consideration of the combined nineteenth to twenty-first report of Venezuela on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Presenting the report, Hector Rodriguez, Vice-President for Social Affairs of the Minister Cabinet and Minister for the Empowerment of the Youth, said that since 1999 the country’s Constitution protected human rights and strongly condemned all forms of discrimination, which undermined the full enjoyment of human rights by all. Twelve Ministries had been set up to work in the area of equity and empowerment of the people in order to meet the needs of Venezuelans, paying particular attention to those who had previously been excluded from society. Poverty had been significantly reduced, enrolment in education had been increased and illiteracy had been totally eradicated since 2005. Venezuela had put in place an appropriate legal framework and had the political will and necessary resources to eliminate racial discrimination and ensure that all of its people lived together in peace and solidarity.

The following members of the delegation contributed to the presentation of the report: Aloha Joselyn Nunez Gutierrez, Minister for the Empowerment of Indigenous Peoples; Manuel Sabino Suarez Hidalgo, Deputy Minister for Citizen Security, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Justice and Peace; Laura Franco, Director of “INAMUJER”, Ministry for the Empowerment of Women; and Luis Fernando Damiani Bustillos, Representative of the Supreme Court of Justice.

During the discussion, the Committee commended Venezuela on its excellent report and presentation and noted the progress made since the country’s last review. Committee Experts raised issues such as the provision of disaggregated data for education and employment so as to give a better understanding of the situation of indigenous peoples and persons of African descent, the procedure for receiving and processing complaints from individuals or communities about cases of racial discrimination, and the identification of persons belonging to indigenous communities and the Afro-descendant minority. Questions were also asked about the teaching of the history of indigenous peoples, the opportunities that critics of the revolution had to voice opposition, and efforts undertaken to combat double discrimination against women and older persons belonging to minority groups.

In concluding remarks, Jose Francisco Cali Tzay, Country Rapporteur for Venezuela, said that he was sympathetic to the efforts made by Venezuela to fight racial discrimination and congratulated the country on its efforts to combat the incitement to racial hatred. Venezuela’s views vis-à-vis the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights were fully respected, but the Committee urged Venezuela to consider remaining a member of that system so as to contribute to its reform from within.

Hector Rodriguez, Vice-President for Social Affairs of the Minister Cabinet and Minister for the Empowerment of the Youth, said that Venezuela was determined to continue working to combat all forms of racial discrimination and to consolidate national independence, the rule of law, and the social State. Every effort would be made to turn the Committee’s comments into actions. The exercise of human rights should stop being a philosophical endeavour but, rather, should be rooted in the reality of the people.

The Delegation of Venezuela included representatives from the Ministry for the Empowerment of the Youth, the Ministry for the Empowerment of Indigenous Peoples, the Ministry for People’s Power, International Relations and Europe, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Justice and Order, the Presidential Commission for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Education, the Ministry for the Empowerment of Women, and the Permanent Mission of Venezuela to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 3 p.m. on Friday, 16 August, when it will begin its consideration of the combined sixteenth to eighteenth periodic report of Chad (CERD/C/TCD/16-18).

Report

The combined nineteenth to twenty-first report of Venezuela can be read here (CERD/C/VEN/19-21).

Presentation of the Report

HECTOR RODRIGUEZ, Vice-President for Social Affairs of the Ministerial Cabinet and Minister for the Empowerment of the Youth, said that Venezuela was committed to promoting and protecting human rights, particularly those of vulnerable groups. Since the creation of its new Constitution in 1999, the country had been working to eradicate what remained of a previously repressive State, and had managed to develop a democratic society built on the principles of fairness and participation. That reflected the objectives of Simon Bolivar, whose vision consisted of a State which brought happiness to its people. Since the beginning of colonization in Latin America, discrimination had been rife in Venezuela, not only against indigenous peoples but also against persons of African descent. By contrast, the 1999 Constitution protected human rights and strongly condemned all forms of discrimination, which undermined the full enjoyment of human rights by all in Venezuela. The social policy of the country focused on the public nature of human rights and guaranteed that healthcare and education were freely available to all. Venezuela was a society based on equality, which was reflected in the free distribution of national wealth. Satisfying the needs of the people and empowering them remained at the heart of the Government’s policies, based on the belief that democracy was a political system which required the population to play a key role.

Twelve Ministries had been set up to work in the area of equality and empowerment of the people in order to meet the needs of Venezuelans, paying particular attention to those who had previously been excluded from society. General poverty had been reduced from 39 to 24 per cent in the last decade, while extreme poverty had been reduced from 17 per cent to seven per cent since 1999. Prior to the 1999 revolution, one in five Venezuelans suffered from hunger. Ten years later, thanks to the implementation of numerous programmes for better nutrition, the number of those suffering from hunger had been greatly reduced, and on average 1,000 persons per day had been saved from hunger and malnutrition. Three daily meals were provided for everyone in the country, which had helped significantly to reduce child malnutrition. Moreover, enrolment in basic education had been increased by 25 per cent in recent years and progress had been made with regard to the quality of education programmes offered in State schools. Illiteracy in Venezuela had been totally eradicated since 2005.

Venezuela was the least unequal country in Latin America and, according to the United Nations, it had one of the highest human development levels. Venezuela had identified obstacles, challenges and problems which it needed to overcome. That could be achieved through dialogue, which would allow Venezuela, among other things, to identify strengths and weaknesses in its implementation of international instruments. The law prohibited and sanctioned racial discrimination, and many important developments had taken place in recent years, including the establishment of the Ministry for the Empowerment of Indigenous Peoples, which focused on improving the lives of indigenous peoples and on promoting social inclusion. Through its National Statistics Institute, Venezuela received accurate information on various demographic trends, which it then used to design appropriate policies. One of the country’s priorities was to eradicate completely racial discrimination and poverty by 2019. The Government had put in place an appropriate legal framework and also had the political will and necessary resources to achieve those goals and to make sure that its people lived together in peace and solidarity.

ALOHA JOSELYN NUNEZ GUTIERREZ, Minister for the Empowerment of Indigenous Peoples, said that millions of indigenous peoples had perished during the colonization period and in the pre-1999 era. Only in 1961 were indigenous peoples mentioned in the Constitution, in an article which was extremely humiliating to them. During the four decades which followed, indigenous peoples were massively discriminated against, until Hugo Chavez (President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013) introduced a new Constitution and gave them the right to participate in an unprecedented referendum. Today, indigenous peoples were guaranteed the right to have their own economic and cultural organizations and policies, and the Constitution actively protected their right to bilingual education and their right to healthcare. The Bolivarian Revolution had created the Ministry for the Empowerment of Indigenous Peoples, which worked to meet the needs of the 725,000 members of indigenous communities (as shown in the 2011 census). Intercultural and bilingual education was offered to indigenous youth in 656 schools offering early, primary, and middle school level education programmes throughout the country, with special emphasis on indigenous peoples. Moreover, the Government had created an indigenous health directorate, which offered assistance to the 40 indigenous communities across the eleven states which made up Venezuela. In the post-Revolution era land titles had been granted to a large number of indigenous peoples, which, along with all other measures mentioned earlier, contributed to eliminating racial discrimination.

MANUEL SABINO SUAREZ HIDALGO, Vice-Minister for Citizen Security, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Justice and Peace, said that Venezuela was one of the countries with the greatest cultural diversity and a truly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. Therefore, respect of human rights was a point of honour for Venezuela, which had signed several international conventions and prohibited racial discrimination in the strongest possible terms in its Constitution. Significant progress had been made in identifying indigenous communities and peoples through a series of effective mechanisms. The Ministry for the Empowerment of the People had issued identity cards to many persons, including more than 300,000 members of indigenous communities, and had made use of mobile units and specialized translation services to reach remote areas and facilitate the process. Identification was very important, because it ensured that those given identity cards had the opportunity fully to enjoy their human rights.

LAURA FRANCO, Director of “INAMUJER” the Ministry for the Empowerment of Women, said that the Constitution of Venezuela had served as a model of a democratic and egalitarian constitution for many countries. Venezuela had not only signed numerous international treaties but had also taken a series of concrete measures to ensure gender equality, such as the creation of the Ministry for the Empowerment of Women. Other initiatives, policies, actions and mechanisms were also helping to address, prevent and eventually eradicate gender-based violence and discrimination. The recently established National Ombudsperson for Women’s Rights and the Office for the coordination of Afro-descendant women, worked to ensure that women of African descent enjoyed greater visibility and had an active role to play in the construction of Venezuelan identity and the development of the country. In addition, the Office for the Coordination of Indigenous Women had been set up to mainstream ethnicity and gender issues into all aspects of Government activities and policies.

LUIS FERNANDO DAMIANI BUSTILLOS, Representative of the Supreme Court of Justice, said that the Venezuelan justice system made combating racial discrimination and inequality in the administration of justice one of its top priorities. In the post-1999 period, every effort was made to ensure that those lacking the necessary resources had free access to justice, so that everyone could enjoy the right to equality. Justice was made available both at the national and the municipal level, and priority access was given to persons of weak financial means. Several mobile courts were available across the country, consisting of units designed to transport courts of justice to the most remote communities, where vulnerable groups lived. Moreover, free legal services were provided to those who could not afford the services of legal officers, training in human rights was offered in higher education institutions, and innovative educational programmes actively promoted territorial equality.

Questions by Experts

JOSE FRANCISCO CALI TZAY, Country Rapporteur for Venezuela, welcomed the well-balanced, inclusive and high-level delegation from Venezuela and thanked the delegation for its comprehensive report. In a total population of 29 million inhabitants, 2.6 per cent identified themselves as indigenous peoples, while 3.4 per cent of the total population identified themselves as persons of African descent. What was the exact number of indigenous groups in the country? Which groups of indigenous peoples were officially recognized and which were not recognized? Figures on the total numbers of groups varied from 39 or 40 to over 50. Could the delegation provide an accurate figure?

The delegation had drawn attention to numerous laws introduced in order to protect indigenous peoples, but its report did not contain any information on the implementation or outcomes of those new laws, measures and plans. Were there any future plans to recognize the afro-descendant identity and culture? Concerning education, it was positive to note the existence of several scholarship programmes but more information was needed on those. Also, to what extent were traditional forms of indigenous medicine recognized? The report made several references to efforts undertaken to prevent the incitement to racial hatred, but the way in which the State was implementing such measures was not clear, so further information on that would be welcome. Further details were also needed on the results achieved by the pilot study launched in response to the lack of disaggregated data and on the practice of self-identification of ethnicity.

Mr. Cali Tzay also wondered whether Afro-descendants were considered as indigenous peoples in Venezuela, and wanted to know who were those identified in the report as “the most vulnerable communities”. Did the most vulnerable communities include indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants? The Committee had some concerns about certain gaps it had identified in the criminal code and in the constitutional provisions for racial discrimination, particularly with regard to the lack of a clear definition of racial discrimination in national legislation. Alos, more information was needed on the process of harmonization of sentencing for acts of racial discrimination, particularly its effectiveness and any progress made in that respect.

Reports received about the murder of individuals, including non-governmental organization leaders, were the source of major concern. What information could the delegation provide on the matter? What was the situation regarding the demarcation of indigenous lands? Mr. Cali Tzay said he had noted with satisfaction efforts undertaken to facilitate access to justice without discrimination, and requested more information on the mechanisms developed a mechanism to achieve that. Also, what if the victims of racial discrimination were not satisfied with the ruling of the tribunals to which they had access? Did have the option of bringing their complaint to other bodies, including the Committee? The impressive progress which Venezuela had made in its fight against racial discrimination perhaps could have been better reflected in the report, which, unfortunately, did not include many examples of the positive outcomes of Venezuela’s anti-discrimination measures and policies.

Committee Experts then took the floor to ask questions. An Expert asked for disaggregated figures for the areas of education, particularly higher education, and employment, so as to gain a better understanding of the situation of indigenous peoples and persons of African descent in Venezuela.

Another Expert asked why Venezuela had rejected some of the recommendations which it had received, including the recommendation urging it to adopt legislation on the trafficking in persons, the recommendation to take measures to protect minors from exploitation, and recommendations for the effective protection of the right to freedom of expression. Why had there been a delay in implementing some of the recommendations which had been accepted? What was the relationship between the newly established coordinating body for Afro-descendant women and the Vice-Minister’s Office for Afro-descendant women?

An Expert pointed out that no official statistics or other data were available on complaints or convictions relating to cases of racial discrimination. Even more worrying were the reports which had been received about members of indigenous communities being subjected to acts of violence by police officers. How did Venezuela identify individuals as persons of African descent? The Committee had always favoured the method of self-identification.

The report submitted by Venezuela gave the Committee a fairly full picture of the situation in the country, said another Expert, who commended Venezuela on measures taken to ensure that all persons were treated as equal members of society. Involving indigenous peoples in public life and encouraging participation was very important, said the Expert. Information on the exact number of indigenous peoples groups and other relevant figures in the report were not very clear. Could the delegation provide the exact figures? Venezuela’s legislation did not comply fully with the provisions of Article 4 of the Convention, nor did it prevent the incitement to racial hatred from every possible area in which hate speech and racial violence might occur.

Another Expert praised Venezuela for its excellent report and well-balanced delegation, and wanted to know how the Government went about identifying cases of hate speech and how those cases were dealt with. The eradication of illiteracy and the extremely high rate of enrolment in higher education were impressive achievements, said the Expert, who had previously lived in Venezuela himself. When it came to teaching history at school, what research sources and methods were used for the history of indigenous groups in particular and who collected the relevant data?

The progress which Venezuela had made in the past 15 years in fighting against racial discrimination was admirable, said another Expert. Efforts to put in place an inclusive, participative and proactive democracy were highly commendable but there was also a need to allow for dissent and for the creative tension of critique. What sort of programmes and policies could be put in place to ensure that the voices which had recently emerged, most notably from indigenous peoples groups and from Afro-descendant minorities, could be heard loud and clear? The Expert commended Venezuela on providing human rights training and wondered how the training was carried out.

Concerning the issue of hate speech, was there a Press Council or another mechanism to deal with cases of hate speech used in the media and the incitement to racial hatred? Furthermore, information was needed on the implementation of measures to improve the situation of women of African descent, for example regarding the reduction of violence against women and the protection of the rights of women prisoners. What was being done to combat racial discrimination against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees?

Response by Delegation

GABRIELA RAMIREZ, Ombudsperson of the People from the National Human Rights Institute, introduced himself to the Committee and said that the Office of the Ombudsman was provided for in the national Constitution. In 2002 the National Human Rights Institute received a ‘class A’ status accreditation, and it currently held the presidency for the American continent’s network of National Institutes. The Office had a mandate to receive and process claims about violations of human rights and had the right to bring cases before the competent courts. A 24-hour hotline and mobile units visiting regularly even the most remote parts of the country ensured that everyone could make complaints about human rights violations. Since 2001, the Office of the Ombudsperson had been responsible for the provision of human rights training and 35,000 persons throughout the country had received appropriate training in the past five years.

In terms of awareness-raising activities, the Office of the Ombudsperson had issued many publications on indigenous peoples and had carried out numerous research projects which promoted the principle of equality and protected the rights of indigenous peoples. In 2012 the Office had also made recommendations to the Government for the upcoming Venezuela’s Universal Periodic Review. As a National Human Rights Institute, it celebrated the organic law which criminalized the offence of racial discrimination, a clear reflection of the Government’s determination to promote equality across the country. The Institute operated an information system monitoring any human rights-related complaints or requests made either individually or collectively. Ms. Ramirez said that it was positive that a question of self-identification had been included in the 2011 census, but it would be worthwhile to evaluate the scope of the awareness of Venezuelan people with regard to issues of indigenous and Afro-descendant identity. She also recommended that the State gather and compile statistics which would allow for a more accurate diagnosis of the human rights situation of Afro-descendants, and suggested that efforts to demarcate the habitat and lands of indigenous peoples should continue.

In response to the questions and comments made by Committee Experts, the delegation said that the principle of equality was one of the pillars of the society which Venezuela had been trying to build, despite continuous attacks from some international media. The Government continued to fight against racial discrimination and also learned a lot from the experience of other Latin American and Caribbean countries. Throughout all this, Venezuela remained a firm believer in racial and social equality. Neo-liberalist policies enhanced inequality and social fragmentation, while Venezuela had been working hard to give supremacy to human rights and to remedy problems which persisted in the pre-1999 period. The State sought to create social inclusion by tackling the causes of vulnerability of indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, women, persons of African descent, homeless persons and older persons. Venezuela was determined to continue moving forward by implementing policies which strengthened further the country’s organic law on the elimination of racial discrimination.

Concerning the point about statistics on indigenous peoples and persons of African descent, the National Institute of Statistics in 2007 had set up a sub-committee with the objective of obtaining reliable data on those groups. To that end, the sub-committee had formulated a number of questions which were then incorporated in the 2011 census and facilitated the collection of accurate data on minority groups. Additional data were available and could be shared with the Committee, if needed.

Concerning its membership of the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights, the delegation said that that body had become a tool of attacking progressive Governments in Latin America thereby violating the sovereignty of those States. Venezuela had been systematically targeted by that body, which had lost its reliability and credibility. Therefore, Venezuela had decided to withdraw from that biased system, but was happy to be part of the United Nations system for the protection of human rights.

In addition, various non-governmental organizations from the United States advocated that indigenous peoples in Venezuela were different from the rest of the country’s population. The United States, which interfered in other countries’ internal affairs, financed many ethnic movements in Latin America and the Caribbean with a view to bringing about change in certain States so it could exploit their natural resources. Interfering in other countries’ internal affairs was also reflected in attempts by certain States to change the Human Rights Council back to the old Human Rights Commission, which had been characterized by double standards and selectivity. Hugo Chavez had been stigmatized by the elites of certain countries because of his ethnic origins, and, more recently, xenophobic statements had been made about the current Venezuelan President.

Venezuela was looking at the deeper causes of racism in order better to tackle that serious problem, and was working to build a new society on the basis of equity and egalitarianism. Remaining challenges were currently being addressed and a series of measures were being adopted in order to remove all obstacles which prevented the people of Venezuela from enjoying their human rights. Eradication of the causes of the poverty meant contesting the socio-economic model of capitalism.

While the Government remained proud and optimistic about the future of post-revolution Venezuela, nevertheless it was not resting on its laurels and continued to build on the results of the revolution to construct a new model of society. The delegation said that it wanted to organize a forum in Venezuela to explore various possibilities for the elimination of racial discrimination and to strengthen cooperation with the Committee. It also invited the Committee to visit Latin American and to maintain constructive interaction and dialogue with Venezuela.

The organic law on indigenous peoples and communities defined the term “indigenous” and also provided an accurate definition of who were considered as indigenous peoples. There were currently 40 indigenous groups in Venezuela. The confusion about the overall number of indigenous groups had stemmed from the fact that the same group was sometimes known by several different names.

In response to the point about researching and preserving the history of indigenous peoples, the delegation said that indigenous communities had a history which was orally transmitted from generation to generation. In each community there were facilitators who were the knowledge-holders of the community’s history, and there were also non-indigenous specialists studying the history of indigenous peoples.

Concerning the comment about the voices of critics being heard, respect of cultural diversity along with the empowerment of the people, which had been achieved through the revolution, guaranteed that critics of the revolution had a space where they could make their voices heard. The delegation also clarified that all activities in indigenous territories and habitats should be preceded by appropriate consultation with the indigenous communities concerned. For that purpose, thousands of assemblies, meetings and consultation sessions had been held with indigenous communities and their representatives.

The demarcation of land was a process initiated upon receipt of a request by the indigenous peoples themselves, who also actively participated in the process. The demarcation of land was overseen by a demarcation commission, whose membership consisted of 10 representatives elected by the communities and 10 institutional representatives. In cases where disputes arose between indigenous communities and public or private corporations, those would be resolved by the commission for the demarcation of indigenous lands.

Responding to the Experts’ questions about the participation of indigenous communities in the judicial system, the delegation said that Venezuela had made significant progress in that regard. Article 4 of the organic law on discrimination, which was adopted in 2011, provided that judges and magistrates should be selected on the basis of the number of inhabitants of the commune concerned, by a universal, direct and secret vote from those over the age of fifteen years. A new network on social relationships was being built based on social solidarity, and lawyers were being trained to draft new positive laws in the context of the Bolivarian revolution. Lawyers were being trained to fight social inequality and injustice.

Comments by Experts

One Expert said that he understood that Venezuela had changed completely its political system in a peaceful and democratic way, and he noted that policies and institutions had been set up to keep the Venezuelan society free of racial discrimination. He failed to understand, however, why the distance between Venezuela and the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights was widening, especially given that the latter had made numerous interventions in the past in favour of indigenous peoples in other Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Colombia. If Venezuela had a different view on certain matters, it could defend its positions vis-à-vis the Inter-American Human Rights Court instead of severing all ties with the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights.

Another Expert said that he, too, had been alarmed by some of the statements which the delegation had made against the Inter-American human rights system, which Venezuela had denounced. European human rights courts were also criticized by various States who called for greater respect of their national sovereignty, but those States did not withdraw from bodies for the protection of human rights. While national sovereignty was important, it was crucial not to give the impression that the impartiality of international judges was criticized, because what was at stake was the rule of law and the impartiality of courts, whose protection States might need in the future.

The issue of the provision of specific indicators for the structural changes which Venezuela was planning to make in the future, was raised by another Expert. What were the goals set and what methods would be used to achieve those goals? How would the outcome of those efforts be assessed? Also, what particular mechanisms were the People’s Ombudsperson putting in place to deal with discrimination against older persons from minority groups?

Response by the Delegation

The delegation thanked the Experts for their comments and said that it shared the Committee’s concerns about membership of the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights. Venezuela was taking action to ensure that its people could exercise their own rights. The question was whether human rights were viable in a system which was based on exclusion. Venezuela had clear concerns about the capitalist system, which it believed could not provide a viable environment for the enjoyment of human rights by all. Disagreement with the Committee on this and other points was part of a healthy exchange of opinions between the Experts and the national delegations.

Concerning the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the delegation said that it did not support the way in which it functioned. Its decisions were more political than legal rulings, and they were not always based on respect of human rights. Nevertheless, Venezuela was prepared to continue to discuss those matters bilaterally, given the recommendation of Committee Experts on this matter, which it took very seriously.

Venezuela did not think that it had a different image in the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights and in the United Nations systems. The problem was that the two systems functioned in a different way. It was important for international organizations not to be transformed into political organizations used for the pursuit of political goals, but should remain completely impartial.

Concluding Remarks

HECTOR RODRIGUEZ, Vice-President for Social Affairs of the Minister Cabinet and Minister for the Empowerment of the Youth, in concluding remarks, said that all States should spend less on war and weapons and should focus more on tackling social problems such as hunger and poverty. Committee Members should visit Venezuela and get a first-hand experience of what was being done to promote and protect human rights. Social rights were universal, so Venezuela recognized the right to a pension as a universal right. Discrimination continued to exist in Venezuela, as in other parts of the world, in the form of political and economic elements relating to class and social status, which widened the gap between citizen groups. Venezuela was determined to continue working to combat all those elements and to create a society of equality. It would also carry on with the demarcation of indigenous lands. The State would continue to defend the right of people to cultivate their land, and property titles would continue to be granted to individuals to enable them to do so. Neo-liberalism was used to attack progressive countries, but frank dialogue had always been a good way of reconciling opposing views and resolving differences, so countries should continue to engage in dialogue. Venezuela invited Latin American and Caribbean countries to build new regional human rights institutions, which truly defended human rights without politicization or double standards. The exercise of human rights should stop being a philosophical endeavour but, rather, should be rooted in the reality of the people.

JOSE FRANCISCO CALI TZAY, Country Rapporteur for Venezuela, thanked the delegation for its report and frank answers, and said that he was sympathetic to the efforts made by Venezuela to fight against racial discrimination. He congratulated the country on its efforts to combat the incitement to racial hatred in particular, and invited Venezuela to ratify the remaining human rights treaties. The views of the country vis-à-vis the Inter-American system for the protection of human rights were fully respected, but the Committee urged Venezuela to consider remaining a member of that system so it could contribute to its reform from within. In its next report, Venezuela could share information about the budget allocated to the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and persons of African descent, and about the killings of the leaders of indigenous communities.

HECTOR RODRIGUEZ, Vice-President for Social Affairs of the Minister Cabinet and Minister for the Empowerment of the Youth, said that the comments made by the Experts had been noted and that additional information and answers would be provided in due course. Venezuela expressed its appreciation for the honest dialogue held with the Committee and reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, stressing that the country was working to consolidate national independence, the rule of law, and the social State. Every effort would be made to turn the Committee’s comments into actions.

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