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09/04/2011 | US - Venezuela worse, Colombia better on rights

A.F.P.

Human rights conditions worsened over the past year in Venezuela and remained high in Cuba, but improved in Colombia, the US State Department said Friday in an annual review.

 

The annual US report on human rights practices cited a mixed picture in Latin America.

Nicaragua was cited along with Venezuela as a country where respect for human rights worsened.

In Venezuela, ruled by firebrand President Hugo Chavez, the US cited a litany of abuses including "unlawful killings, including summary executions of criminal suspects; widespread criminal kidnappings for ransom; prison violence and harsh prison conditions."

Although the government was not directly responsible for politically motivated killings, the report said Venezuelan security forces "were accused of committing unlawful killings, including summary executions of criminal suspects."

The report also cited "corruption and impunity in police forces," "selective prosecution for political purposes," government threats to sanction or close media outlets, violence against women and restrictions on workers' right of association in Venezuela.

In Nicaragua, "the most significant human rights abuses during the year included restrictions of citizens' right to change their government and widely reported voting fraud in regional elections," the State Department said.

It also cited "occasional unlawful killings by security forces," harsh and overcrowded prison conditions, "lack of respect for the rule of law" and widespread corruption.

The situation in Colombia meanwhile appeared to improve under new President Juan Manuel Santos, the report said.

The Santos government "made demonstrable advances in improving the human rights environment" and implemented new policies to accelerate the return of land to displaced families.

Additionally, the report said "extrajudicial executions continued to decline, and several senior military officers were convicted of human rights abuses."

Still, Colombia faces ongoing human rights violations stemming from the long war with leftist guerrillas, the US report said, adding that "there were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian control."

It cited "insubordinate military collaboration with new illegal armed groups and paramilitary members who refused to demobilize" and "occasional harassment and intimidation of journalists."

Cuba remained weak in respect for human rights despite Havana's agreement to free a number of dissidents, the report said.

Rights abuses in Cuba included "harassment, beatings, and threats against political opponents" and the government's "pervasive monitoring of private communications" along with "severe limitations on freedom of speech and press."

GoogleNews (Estados Unidos)

 


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