UN rights recommendations to be taken 'seriously': Maduro

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday said he would take "seriously" the recommendations of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet following their meeting in Caracas.

"There are always going to be different criteria in every country, but I told her that she can count on me, as president, to take her suggestions, her recommendations and her proposals seriously," Maduro said as he saw off Bachelet from the Miraflores presidential palace.

He later vowed to prosecute people accused of human rights abuses.

Bachelet's visit came amid the country's ongoing economic and political crisis that the UN says has caused some four million Venezuelans to flee since 2015 amid hyperinflation and a shortage of basic goods.

Bachelet has previously criticized the Venezuelan government's response to the crisis and called for Caracas to respect "everyone's fundamental right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression."

Yet it was the Maduro government who invited former Chilean president Bachelet, saying the visit would be an opportunity to show its adherence to human rights and the "negative repercussions" of sanctions that prevent Venezuela from selling its oil to the United States.

During her visit, Bachelet also met with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized as Venezuela's interim president by some 50 countries, including the United States.

Rights groups had pushed Bachelet to raise the issue of 715 people they say are jailed for political reasons, a claim Maduro's government rejects.

Guaido said after their meeting that Bachelet would call "for the release of political prisoners" in a forthcoming report.