Human rights activists from Cuba and Venezuela lobby UN Human Rights Council
Venezuelan and Cuban activists lobby U.N. on human rights
GENEVA (Reuters) - Venezuelan and Cuban activists lobbied the United Nations on Wednesday to investigate the deaths of dozens of student protesters in Caracas and the jailing of Cuban dissidents.
The two Latin American powers, led by socialist Presidents Nicolas Maduro and Raul Castro, are members of the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council.
"We came to Geneva to ask the U.N. to send a mission to Venezuela to evaluate the cases of human rights violations that students have been subjected to," Eusebio Costa, a student activist and President of the Student Center at the Catholic University Santa Rosa in Caracas, told a news briefing.
He said 117 students are still being held, some in high-security military prisons, after three months of protests that began in the major oil-producing nation in February. Forty-two people including 38 students were killed in the violence.
The government says the protests were a veneer for a U.S.-backed conspiracy to oust the successor to the late Hugo Chavez.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in an opening speech to the Human Rights Council on June 10, called for independent U.N. investigators to have access to Venezuela.
Venezuela last invited a U.N. human rights investigator in 1996, and Cuba in 2007, whereas 108 countries have extended standing invitations to all investigators, U.N. officials say.
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