CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s ruling party-controlled National Assembly on Tuesday appointed 20 magistrates to the country’s revamped Supreme Court of Justice after several weeks of an unexplained delay.

The assembly, which is majority controlled by President Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), approved a judicial reform in January that reduced the number of judges on the court from 32 to 20.

The court is widely seen by the opposition and several non-governmental organizations as an extension of the government.

A group of United Nations investigators said last year that Venezuela’s justice system perpetuated human rights abuses as part of a state policy to stifle opposition to Maduro, accusations which he denies.

The assembly argued that streamlining the tribunal would speed up decisions.

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Lawmaker Diosdado Cabello, second in command of the PSUV, said the reform “works for justice and peace in this country”.

At least 10 current magistrates chosen in 2015 will remain in office for the remainder of their 12-year terms. The magistrates take the oath in session and take office immediately.

Judge Maikel Moreno, who has led the court since 2017, will continue to serve as judge, although he will be replaced as president by the assembly at a later session.

Among the new members of the tribunal is Tania D’Amelio, who until last week was one of the main directors of the National Electoral Council.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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