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Venezuela frees 22 prisoners

Venezuela has released twenty-two prisoners including a high-profile judge and a journalist.

The releases, which included twenty students, took place on Thursday, but were announced on Friday by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

The news came after the UN Human Rights Council held a debate on Mrs. Bachelet’s report of a visit to Venezuela in June.

The report accused Venezuelan security forces of sending death squads to murder young men, but a vice minister rejected that in a speech to the Geneva forum on Friday.

“The welcome releases of sixty-two detainees then (in June), with a further twenty-two – including journalist Braulio Jatar and judge (Maria) Lourdes Afiuni –… signify the beginning of positive engagement on the country’s many human rights issues,” Mrs. Bachelet said.

A UNHCR spokeswoman told Reuters that Mrs. Bachelet, a former Chilean president, had requested the twenty-two releases directly to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Judge Maria Afiuni was jailed without a warrant shortly after former president Hugo Chavez criticized one of her rulings releasing businessman Eligio Cedeno, who was accused of corruption.

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