US hopes to keep Venezuela off UN human rights panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is hoping to keep Venezuela from winning a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

A State Department official said Friday that members of the U.N. General Assembly should vote against Venezuela next week because of severe human rights abuses under President Nicolas Maduro.

State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Jon Piechowski said allowing the Maduro government to have a seat would be an "outrageous proposition" and "affront to the human rights council."

Piechowski said the Maduro government has killed political opponents, withheld food from supporters of the opposition and holds nearly 500 political prisoners.

U.N. members will choose among Venezuela, Brazil and Costa Rica for two Latin America representatives on the 47-nation council.

Venezuelan officials regularly reject any criticism of the country's human rights record.