After a three-day visit to Venezuela, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) left Caracas on the evening of Wednesday, November 3, without leaving behind either winners or losers. It was in the Venezuelan capital that Karim Khan announced the opening of an investigation into allegations of crimes committed in the country since at least 2017. “We respect his decision even if (…) we do not share it”, declared Nicolas Maduro in his presence, during the signing ceremony of an agreement at the presidential palace. “Despite the differences of opinion on this issue [l’ouverture d’une enquête], the parties remain determined to actively collaborate with each other ”, states the text, which specifies that“No suspect has been identified at this stage”.
Caracas has thus committed, in writing, to cooperate by facilitating the investigations of the prosecutor’s office in its territory. But if the regime is so magnanimous, it is because it is also winning. A year ago, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, from whom Karim Khan took over in June, concluded that there was a “Reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity for torture, rape and sexual violence, severe deprivation of liberty, imprisonment, persecution for political reasons” have been committed since April 2017, “By the civil authorities, the armed forces and certain pro government individuals”.
For months, Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab then tried to prove that national justice was investigating and could conduct trials on his soil. The ICC aims, in fact, to put an end to the impunity of perpetrators of mass crimes, and intervenes only as a last resort, if a state does not have the means or the will to investigate and judge. But in May, Fatou Bensouda concluded that the legal proceedings had for sole purpose “To remove people” to the justice of The Hague.
“This Court is your Court”
However, on this last point, Karim Khan is, on the contrary, betting on confidence. According to the agreement signed on Wednesday, he undertakes to support the upgrading of the country’s judicial institutions to international standards, or even to defer the investigation if Caracas ends up proving the capacity of its own courts. “Venezuela has earned its right to peace, to salué Nicolas Maduro. If there was no justice, there would be no peace, and in Venezuela, there is a dynamic peace that is being built, there is a peace based on constitutional rights ”. “This Court is your Court”, Karim Khan launched to his host, behind whom stood the flag of the ICC, whose existence is enshrined in the Constitution of Venezuela.
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ICC opens investigation into allegations of crimes committed by regime in Venezuela