Sanctions not the solution for Venezuela crisis: U.N. expert

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro is pictured between palm trees as he arrives for a session of the National Constituent Assembly at Palacio Federal Legislativo in Caracas, Venezuela August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

GENEVA (Reuters) - Imposing sanctions on Venezuela is not the answer to resolving the growing crisis in the country which is already reeling from shortages of food and medicines, a United Nations human rights investigator said on Friday.

“Sanctions would worsen the situation of the people of Venezuela, who are already suffering from crippling inflation and a lack of access to adequate food and medicine,” said Idriss Jazairy, U.N. special rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.

“I urge all countries to avoid applying sanctions unless approved by the United Nations Security Council, as required by the UN Charter,” he said.

Jazairy called for dialogue between states to find solutions “to the very real challenges being faced”.

Washington imposed sanctions on eight Venezuelan officials on Wednesday for their role in creating an all-powerful legislative body loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, but stopped short of action against the OPEC nation’s vital oil industry.

More than 125 people have died in violence since the opposition began a sustained wave of protests in April.

A week ago, Venezuela inaugurated a new legislative superbody that is expected to rewrite the constitution and give vast powers to Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party, defying protests and worldwide condemnation that it undermines democratic freedom.

The U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday that Venezuelan security forces have systematically wielded excessive force to suppress protests, killings dozens, and have arbitrarily detained 5,000 people since April, including 1,000 still in custody.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Richard Balmforth