Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela wins seat on UN Human Rights Council

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Media captionVenezuela's shopping mall of torture

Venezuela has won a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, despite widespread criticism of its poor human rights record.

A UN General Assembly meeting in Geneva saw the Latin American country elected to one of 14 new seats on the 47-member body.

Nicolás Maduro's government hailed it as an "important achievement".

His administration is accused of jailing, torturing and arbitrarily arresting opposition figures.

More than 50 countries no longer recognise Mr Maduro as the country's legitimate leader. The US and most governments in Latin America - as well as EU states like France, Germany, Spain and the UK - back opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the interim president.

China, Cuba and Russia continue to support Mr Maduro, while others - including Mexico - have called for dialogue between both sides.

Brazil and Venezuela won the two Latin American seats on the rights body that were up for grabs on Thursday.

Costa Rica announced its own candidacy just this month in a bid to keep Venezuela from securing a three-year term. Members work to uphold and promote human rights around the world.

Delegates in the chamber applauded the vote, which saw Brazil take 153 votes, Venezuela 105 and Costa Rica 96.

Two days ago, Louis Charbonneau at Human Rights Watch urged member states to vote against Venezuela.

"A vote for Venezuela is a vote for the torture, murder, and impunity that have become trademarks of President Nicolás Maduro's government," he said, calling it a "slap in the face to the millions who have fled the country".

In September, the UN Human Rights Council announced plans to send a fact-finding mission to Venezuela to probe alleged human rights violations.

Mr Maduro's government denounced the move.

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