The Court considers that although the South American country carries out “some investigative measures”, its criminal proceedings still do not have sufficient scope.
The preliminary issues room I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to authorize prosecutor Karim Khan on Tuesday to resume the investigation regarding the ‘Venezuela I’ case.
In a statement, the ICC explained that the judges of the aforementioned chamber, made up of its president, Peter Kovacs, and the litigants Reine Adelaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou and Maria del Socorro Flores Lieraissued their ruling after reviewing both the request of the Prosecutor’s Office to resume the investigations, as well as “the observations of the Venezuelan authorities” and “1,875 opinions” reported “by the Section for the Participation of Victims and Reparations”.
The judges concluded that “although Venezuela is carrying out some investigative steps, its national criminal proceedings do not sufficiently reflect the scope of the investigation planned by the Prosecutor’s Office“.
Similarly, the court alleges that the Venezuelan authorities had “taken limited investigative measures” and that in some cases there appear to be periods of supposed “inactivity“.
The ICC reported that the ruling of the room does not prevent Venezuela from providing material in the future, for the purpose of “allowing the Prosecutor’s Office or the Chamber to determine inadmissibility on the basis of complementarity”. In addition, he points out that when Khan’s office presents a specific case, “a new admissibility assessment may be given.”
The room stressed that the evaluation of national processes is continuous and for this requires “a permanent dialogue” between the Venezuelan authorities and the ICC“in order to ensure respect for the principle of complementarity in relation to investigations and prosecutions authorized by the Court.”
Regarding this, it is worth remembering that at the beginning of June the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, and the ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a technical cooperation office in Caracas.
At that time, Maduro stressed that the agreement was given “to strengthen human rights in Venezuela”, as part “of the complementarity of the Rome Statute”, and to establish “reform and change processes” that the national justice system needs.
For his part, Kahn stressed that his office had developed “meaningful cooperation” together with the leadership of Maduro, and that the headquarters established in Caracas would help to “work more closely” with Venezuela, to allow the country to comply with “its obligations under the Rome Statute.”
Case of Venezuela I: controversies and controversies
The Venezuela I file was opened in September 2018 by the ICC, at the request of a right-wing government lobby which was integrated at the time by Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Paraguay.
These countries – which promoted the imposition of a diplomatic siege against Caracas and the blockade against the South American country through the extinct ‘Group of Lima’ – accused the government of alleged human rights violations during the 2014 opposition protests.
Since Venezuela was indicted, Caracas has insisted that the ICC does not have jurisdiction to investigate events that do not meet the seriousness criteria for cases against humanity.
For this reason, the Government of the South American country asked Khan, in April 2022, abstain from its jurisdiction in favor of the Venezuelan justice systemin accordance with article 18.2 of the Rome Statute, which establishes “the primacy of national jurisdiction”.
The actions against Caracas by those governments were complemented by the coercive measures applied by the US and the European Union against the South American country, a situation that the Venezuelan government denounced before the ICC for the alleged violations of human rights against the citizenry, included in the ‘Venezuela II’ case.
In November 2021, the ICC Prosecutor’s Office announced the conclusion of its preliminary examination and the decision to open an investigation into the situation in Venezuela. At that time, Maduro signed a first memorandum with Khan for cooperation between the parties.
When Caracas asked to suspend the investigation, in April 2022, it alleged that the prosecutor had based his claims on “secondary sources devoid of any credibilitygiven his marked partiality and clear politicization.” In addition, he has denounced the prosecutor for executing a judicial persecution or ‘lawfare’ against Venezuela.
In November 2022, the Prosecutor’s Office filed a request to resume the investigation, stating that there were no reasons for its postponement. Khan considers that “there is a reasonable basis to believe” that the alleged crimes investigated are “part of a systematic attack against a civilian population, in accordance with or in support of a State policy.”