Senior officials of the Nicolás Maduro regime may be closer to having to sit on the bench of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be tried for crimes against humanity committed in Venezuela.
The Hague prosecutor, Karim Khan, was lapidary. There is a reasonable basis for believing that in Venezuela “a systematic attack has been committed against the civilian population in accordance with a state policy (…) and the policy of attacking this part of the population has, at least, been encouraged or approved by the Government of Venezuela and carried out mainly by members of specific state security forces with the possible assistance of pro-government groups or individuals.
So he assures a 22-page document presented on March 30 before the Preliminary Questions Chamber of the International Criminal Court, in which he debunks each of the arguments put forward by the Maduro regime to try to stop the investigations for crimes against humanity.
It’s about the case “Venezuela II” opened by the former prosecutor of the ICC, the Gambia Fatou Bensouda, thanks to the complaint filed by Canada, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Argentina in 2018, during the administration of the then president Maurizio Macri.
In 2021, the government of Alberto Fernández and Cristina Kirchner decided to exit this collective denunciationconsidering that “the problem of human rights in Venezuela was disappearing”.
Nothing further from reality. In his document, the prosecutor of the Criminal Court argues that “at least from April 2017 onwards, thousands of alleged or real opponents of the Venezuelan government have been persecuted for political reasons, arrested and detained without an adequate legal basis; hundreds would be tortured; and more than 100 were allegedly subjected to forms of sexual violence, including rape.”
It describes that “victims were subjected to acts of violence which included beatings, suffocation, near drowning and electric shocks which resulted in serious damage to his mental and physical well-being.
It further notes that the ICC Prosecution “has concluded that the possible cases identified are sufficiently serious to justify the adoption of new measures by the Court, in the light of quantitative and qualitative considerations, including the extent, nature, form of the commission and the repercussions of the crimes”.
Venezuela is the first country in the Americas to have an investigation opened at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Currently the process is paralyzed by the request made by the Maduro regime to suspend the investigation, arguing that investigations by the Chavista Justice are already underway in his country.
However, Prosecutor Khan was emphatic in his document when he pointed out that “all domestic investigations and procedures presented by the Government of Venezuela do not sufficiently reflect the investigation planned by the Court because there has been no investigation into crimes against the humanity”. The investigations focus solely on low-ranking officers and the crimes were framed in terms of “isolated cases” with no pattern investigation.
It is that the International Criminal Court goes beyond the material perpetrators of the crimes. Its goal is to investigate and punish the chain of command, the top officials of the regime who ordered and allowed these gross human rights violations to take place.
For this reason, prosecutor Karim Khan has indicated that the investigation in The Hague must continue. Something that the Chamber of Preliminary Questions of the ICC will decide in the coming months, after receiving the observations of the regime, the response of the prosecutor and the testimony of more than 2,000 Venezuelan victims.
This lapidary document from the ICC prosecutor was made public the same day the report was released by “Lupa por la Vida”, a coalition of prestigious human rights organizations in Venezuela, which documented at least 824 extrajudicial executions in the country during 2022, committed by the military and police of the Maduro regime.
Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.