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Amid criticism from advocacy groups, Venezuelan president to address UN human rights panel

FILE - I this March 17, 2015, file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro listens to the playing of national hymns as he welcomes regional leaders to Miraflores presidential palace for an emergency ALBA meeting in Caracas, Venezuela. On Thursday, Oct. 5, 2015, Maduro repeated a promise to shave off his trademark moustache if his government doesn’t meet a year-end goal of handing over its 1 millionth public housing unit to a family. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

FILE - I this March 17, 2015, file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro listens to the playing of national hymns as he welcomes regional leaders to Miraflores presidential palace for an emergency ALBA meeting in Caracas, Venezuela. On Thursday, Oct. 5, 2015, Maduro repeated a promise to shave off his trademark moustache if his government doesn’t meet a year-end goal of handing over its 1 millionth public housing unit to a family. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)  (The Associated Press)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will deliver a relatively rare address by a head of state to the U.N. Human Rights Council at a time when the South American country's record has come under scrutiny from advocacy groups.

Re-elected by the U.N. General Assembly as a council member last month, Venezuela requested the opportunity for Maduro to address the 47-member panel on Thursday, just weeks before elections in Venezuela.

The council said Monday the address would take place as a "matter of courtesy" to Venezuela's government.

Human Rights Watch and dozens of other rights groups last month said they opposed Venezuela's return to a seat on the council, citing a crackdown on largely peaceful protesters, harassment of rights advocates and the arrest of opposition politicians and other critics "on arbitrary grounds."