International Criminal Court rejects Venezuela’s appeal and continues investigation into crimes against humanity

The Venezuelan government has suffered a new setback in the International Criminal Court. Judges in The Hague have unanimously decided to reject a challenge filed last year with the intention of blocking the investigative process launched into the alleged commission of crimes against humanity over the past decade under the administration of Nicolás Maduro, which has included arrests, Including arbitrary killings and torture. And was forcibly disappeared. The process, which began on November 3, 2021, continues after Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru submitted a complaint to the court in 2018. Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry has called this decision baseless.

This is one of the fronts on which Chavismo fights. The appeal, which government lawyers filed last year, opened the door for the court to hear testimony from more than 8,000 victims who testified to the Victims’ Defense Office and comments from the organization’s panel of independent experts. The hearing took place in November.

The sentencing comes at a time when Chavismo is once again in the crosshairs of the international community due to worsening political persecution and repression. In a presidential election year, two recent episodes once again raise concerns about human rights Is. Situation in the country.

First, the arrest of activist Rocío San Miguel, whose defense has been condemned as serious violations of due process, including several days of incommunicado detention and disappearance. San Miguel has been unable to receive assistance from his lawyers 20 days after his arrest on conspiracy and terrorism charges. Second, the expulsion of members of the Technical Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for expressing their concerns about the San Miguel case.

The government has argued that the justice system is tasked with investigating crimes and convicting them. But the ICC has responded that it does not fall under the same category of crimes against humanity nor do the senior officials responsible for their commission.

In a statement, Foreign Minister Yvan Gil assured that the ICC responds to political intentions: “This entire maneuver is designed to manipulate a small group of crimes that have been duly investigated or punished by the criminal justice system. Is. Venezuelan Justice.”

However, human rights defenders have consistently condemned impunity in a number of cases related to arrests, torture of political prisoners, killings of protesters during the 2014, 2017 and 2019 protest cycles and security operations. The OAS Panel of Experts welcomed the Court’s decision and urged Prosecutor Karim Khan to include in his investigation “the most recent crimes of politically motivated harassment, detention and enforced disappearances before the elections.” ” 2024 and include all criminals, including high-level state criminals.”

A report by Venezuela’s Center for Defenders and Justice counted 97 attacks against NGOs during the month of January. “The threats and attacks recorded during the first month of the year reflect the lack of protection for those who defend, demand and promote rights, and the lack of a conducive and safe environment for their work,” says the report, released this Friday. Are.” In 2023, this organization counted 524 attacks. This also includes the National Assembly’s intention to approve legislation to monitor social organizations, which envisages a fine of up to $12,000 for entities that do not declare the identity and origin of donations.

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