The International Criminal Court (ICC) will open a formal investigation to the Venezuelan State “to establish the truth in accordance with the Rome Statute.” This was reported after the visit of the prosecutor of the high court, Karim Khan.
“The ICC prosecutor has concluded the preliminary examination of the situation in Venezuela and has determined that it is appropriate to open an investigation to establish the truth in accordance with the Rome Statute,” says a communiqué signed with Venezuela and read in front of Khan and Nicolás Maduro.
The document also states that no suspects or targets have been identified in the preliminary phase and that the investigation aims to determine the truth and whether or not there are grounds to bring charges against any person.
The same report mentions that the Venezuelan regime does not agree with the decision, but that it will respect it because Venezuela subscribes to the Rome Statute.
The prosecutor also requested that his office be allowed to carry out its work in Venezuela. In addition, the parties agreed that Venezuela “will take all necessary measures to ensure the effective administration of justice, in accordance with international standards, with the support and active engagement of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court under the principle of complementarity.”
Subsequently, Maduro expressed: “The prosecutor decided to move to the next phase. We respect his decision although we have expressed that we do not share it.”
The ICC prosecutor arrived in Venezuela last Sunday and the following day held a meeting with Maduro at the Presidential Palace. The meeting generated diverse opinions in the Venezuelan society.
For example, relatives of political prisoners in Venezuela considered that Karim Khan‘s agenda was “hijacked” by Chavism. This was stated by Andreína Baduel, daughter of the late political prisoner General Raúl Isaías Baduel, in a statement published by the newspaper El Nacional, who reiterated her call to Khan to listen to political prisoners and their families.
The case of Venezuela before the International Criminal Court
On September 27, 2018, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court received a referral from a group of States Parties to the Rome Statute (Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru) regarding the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela since February 12, 2014.
In the request, they called for the initiation of an investigation into the alleged commission of crimes against humanity, with a view to determining whether one or more persons should be charged as perpetrators of such crimes.
Never before, since the court based in The Hague (Holland) came into operation in 2002, had States Parties to the Rome Statute (the international norm that created the ICC) requested the opening of proceedings against another Member State. This was explained by Juan Navarrete, former representative in Colombia of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, in conversation with BBC Mundo.
In February 2018, it was reported that a preliminary examination was being opened to evaluate the situation in Venezuela. The move was celebrated by Colombian President Iván Duque, who was one of those who pushed for the investigation.
Finally, in December 2020, the prosecutor’s office reported that, based on the information to which it had access during its preliminary examination, it had found reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity had been committed in Venezuela.