CARACAS, Venezuela — Rights groups and the United Nations are expressing concern that Venezuela's withdrawal from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights could heighten political persecution in the South American nation.
The socialist-led government's pullout from the Organization of American States-affiliated court took effect Tuesday, a year after the late President Hugo Chavez announced it.
President Nicolas Maduro tweeted that the court is "a tool to protect US geopolitical interests" and "harass progressive governments."
Venezuela has not quit the OAS itself and technically remains bound by orders of its Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The only other OAS member to withdraw from the rights court's jurisdiction is Trinidad and Tobago, in 1999, after the court questioned its use of the death penalty.
Activists say Venezuelans can turn to the U.N. with rights complaints.