The Latest: Venezuelan envoy tartly answers US critique

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The Latest on the visit of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to Geneva and the U.N. Human Rights Council (all times local):

10:35 p.m.

Venezuela's top envoy to the United Nations has lashed back at a critique of his government from U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

In a tart reply to Haley's brief address to the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Jorge Valero used a right of reply under the Geneva body's rules to denounce "the pathetic intervention from the ambassador of the North American empire."

Valero says the U.S. government "does not have the moral authority to credit itself as the universal judge in terms of human rights."

He insisted the United States should be "apologizing to the world for the atrocities it has committed throughout history."

Valero said the U.S. 'practices torture against people arbitrarily held within illegal facilities" — an apparent allusion to the waterboarding and CIA secret prisons used to interrogate terror suspects.

He also alluded to Haley's comments earlier Tuesday that the United States might withdraw from the council unless it carries out reforms sought by Washington.

"Its withdrawal from this body would be a gain for human rights around the world," he said.


8:25 p.m.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says the Venezuelan government is "destroying human rights and democracy," and President Nicolas Maduro is "turning that formerly prosperous democratic nation into a rusting dictatorship."

Nikki Haley also decried a "campaign of violence and intimidation" by Venezuela's government, during a side event organized by the United States on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

In the first visit by a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. to the 47-member council, Haley insisted that "the Maduro regime has purposefully starved and deliberately hurt its own people."

She said many things could be done to help Venezuelans, "but they really only need one thing: a free election."


3:45 p.m.

A top civil liberties defender is urging the United States to "practice what it preaches" on human rights after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addressed the U.N.'s main human rights body.

The American Civil Liberties Union says in a statement that it's "hard to take Ambassador Haley seriously on U.S. support for human rights in light of Trump administration actions like the Muslim ban and immigration crackdowns."

The ACLU called on the U.S. to make human rights a priority at home, and then could it "begin to credibly demand the same of other countries abroad."

In a brief address earlier, Haley urged reform of the 47-member body, criticized its "chronic anti-Israel bias" and said "no human rights violator" should be allowed a seat.

She also indicated that the U.S. sees "areas for significant strengthening" of the council, and was "looking carefully" at whether it would still participate.

John Fisher of Human Rights Watch said the U.S. "only achieves its stated reforms by engaging, not by walking away."


12:40 p.m.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has decried the "rapidly deteriorating human rights situation" in Venezuela, and says its government should withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council if it can't address the problem.

Nikki Haley took about four minutes to deliver her highly-anticipated remarks to the council as it opened its three-week summer session on Tuesday.

Reiterating concerns voiced by officials of President Donald Trump's administration about the effectiveness of the 47-member body, she said the United States is "looking carefully at this council and our participation in it."

Haley also said it is "essential that this council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility."

She called on the council to adopt "the strongest possible resolutions on the critical human rights situations in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Belarus and Ukraine, and that it follow up to prevent further human rights violations and abuses in those countries."


10:35 a.m.

The U.N. human rights chief has decried over 2,000 years of Jewish suffering culminating in the "colossal crime" of the Holocaust.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein also says Palestinians today mark "a half-century of deep suffering under occupation imposed by military force."

Zeid, a Jordanian prince, acknowledged that some people would respond "that the experiences of the two peoples are not equivalent: How could I mention them in one breath?

"Indeed, I agree: The Holocaust was so monstrous and so mathematically planned and executed, it has no parallel, no modern equal."

He said ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian areas was essential for peace.

Most of Zeid's speech Tuesday to the Human Rights Council denounced a lack of access for his staffers and rights experts to countries to investigate alleged human rights violations.