Venezuela: ICC to investigate possible human rights violations in 2017

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will open an investigation into possible human rights violations in Venezuela during the crackdown on anti-power protests in 2017, according to a memorandum signed Wednesday, November 3 in Caracas between the ICC prosecutor Karim Khan and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

“The ICC prosecutor has concluded the preliminary examination of the situation in Venezuela” and “Has determined that it is proceeding with the opening of an investigation to establish the truth (…) the serious crimes committed (…) must not go unpunished ”, according to the text read on national television. “As we move to this new stage” from preliminary investigation to investigation, “I ask everyone to give my team the space they need for their work”, said Prosecutor Khan alongside President Nicolas Maduro at the Presidential Palace in Caracas.

“The preliminary investigation opened since 2018 is a filtering phase”, recalled the prosecutor, arrived Sunday in Caracas. “As we move into a new phase (…) we are committed to working in a collaborative and independent manner. (…) We are not political. We are guided by principles of equality and the rule of law ”, he assured.

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“No suspect identified”

“The prosecutor decided to move on to the next phase to seek the truth. We respect his decision even though (…) we do not share it ”, meanwhile declared President Maduro.

In the memorandum signed by the two men, Caracas made mention that “The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela considers that the conditions for moving from the preliminary phase to the investigation phase are not met” and that she “Considers that the surveys must be carried out in the country by the already existing national institutions”. The memorandum states that he “There is no identified suspect” at this stage.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido reacted to him on Twitter, saying that “The formal opening of an investigation for crimes against humanity by the ICC defends the right to justice which has been denied to victims and their relatives”.

Violent repression

In 2018, the ICC prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation into alleged human rights violations by the government, in particular due to the violent crackdown on anti-government protests in 2017 in which nearly 100 people died.

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Gambian Fatou Bensouda, who preceded Britain’s Karim Khan, felt that there was a “Reasonable basis” to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed and evoked “Inaction” Venezuelan authorities to investigate. Venezuelan justice has indicted and sentenced law enforcement officials for the deaths of protesters during the 2017 mobilization, but government opponents believe these measures were taken only to avoid a trial at the ICC.

Families of young people who died during the protests or relatives of imprisoned people have demonstrated over the past three days to ask to meet with the prosecutor. “Here, we continue to commit human rights violations. We are the voices of our children ”, had denounced, during a small demonstration Tuesday in Caracas, Elvira Pernalete, mother of Juan Pablo Pernalete, who died after receiving a tear gas grenade shot in the chest in 2017.

The Hague-based ICC investigates and, where appropriate, tries those accused of the most serious crimes that affect the entire international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression, when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.

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The World with AFP

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Venezuela: ICC to investigate possible human rights violations in 2017