ICC to investigate possible crimes against humanity in Venezuela | ICC News


President Nicolas Maduro said the Venezuelan government respected the decision of the ICC to open an investigation, but “we do not share it”.

The International Criminal Court will investigate whether crimes against humanity were committed during Venezuela’s crackdown on anti-government protests in 2017, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan have announced.

After a preliminary assessment, Khan “decided to move on to the next phase to seek the truth,” Maduro said Wednesday.

“We respect his decision as a state, even though we have made it clear that we do not share it,” he said. “We signed an agreement which effectively guarantees cooperation, positive complementarity, mutual support, constructive dialogue to seek truth and justice.”

For his part, Khan stressed the independence of the court and said its investigations should not be politicized.

“I ask everyone, as we enter this new phase, to give my office space to do their work,” he said.

José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, said Wednesday evening that the “decision – the first in Latin American history – gives hope for justice to the hundreds of victims of the brutal repression of the United Nations. Maduro diet ”.

The ICC has been conducting a preliminary examination in the country since 2018, and Khan’s predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, said there was a “reasonable basis” for believing the government had committed crimes against humanity.

Maduro complained that the Venezuelan state did not have access to the documents and information assessed during this phase. “We were blind at this point,” the president said.

During Khan’s three-day visit to the South American nation, which began on Sunday, small groups of family members of victims of alleged rights violations staged street protests demanding a hearing with Khan.

On Wednesday, a small demonstration also took place in front of the headquarters of the intelligence services in the capital, Caracas, where opposition figures are being held.

“I am fully aware of the loopholes that exist in Venezuela, of the political division. We [the ICC] are not political, we are guided by the principles of legality and the rule of law, ”said Khan.

Khan and Maduro have signed an agreement to collaborate on the next stage of the investigation.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) met with ICC prosecutor Karim Khan at the Presidential Palace of Miraflores in Caracas on November 3 [Venezuelan Presidency/AFP]

The ICC prosecutor praised the “constructive dialogue” he had following meetings with Maduro, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, Attorney General Tarek William Saab and representatives of the Supreme Court.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, meanwhile, hailed the ICC ruling, saying it “claims the right to obtain justice which has been denied in Venezuela for the victims and their families.”

Earlier this week, Amnesty International Venezuela researcher Valentina Ballesta said any further delay by the ICC prosecutor’s office in whether or not to initiate the investigation risked exposing “the victims, survivors and human rights defenders at greater risk of reprisals ”.

“The victims and survivors of human rights violations and human rights defenders have been the ones calling for remedies from international justice that would give the situation in the country the attention it deserves”, Ballesta wrote.

“However, the current pause in the preliminary examination, as with any other delay, has raised huge concerns for the safety of those who have openly called for an ICC investigation.”

The ICC, which prosecutes war crimes, can only formally intervene if a state is unwilling or unable to prosecute relevant crimes within its jurisdiction.

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