A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] on Friday called on [press release] all parties involved in the violent protests in Venezuela to open dialogue to resolve the situation after three were killed in demonstrations on Wednesday. Protests against current President Nicolas Maduro [official profile, in Spanish] escalated earlier this week in response to the detainment of student demonstrators, rising crime rates and increasing economic hardship. OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville expressed concern over reports of intimidation of journalists and the potential detainment of nonviolent protesters who may be brought up on terrorism charges. "We are ... concerned that this situation could trigger further outbreaks of violence and that a cycle of violence may take place. We call on all parties in Venezuela to engage in peaceful dialogue to find a way through this crisis," Colville said.
The demonstrations have been partially motivated by Venezuela's current economic difficulties [BBC backgrounder]. In September Venezuela withdrew [JURIST report] from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [official website] despite criticism from activists and calls for the country to remain a member [JURIST report] by the UN. In August the Supreme Court of Venezuela [official website, in Spanish] dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] by candidate Henrique Capriles [BBC profile] challenging the results of the presidential election that placed Maduro as the successor to Hugo Chavez [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged Venezuela in January 2013 to end its practices of censorship and media intimidation [JURIST report].