In his last hours in Caracas, the prosecutor was in International Criminal Court (CPI), Karim Khan, has decided to open an investigation into crimes against humanity in Venezuela. The announcement was made at the Miraflores Palace, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with President Nicolas Maduro, agreeing to cooperate with the operation. “The attorney general has decided to move to the next stage, we do not share the decision, but we respect it,” the Chavista leader said at a televised event. Venezuela is the first country in Latin America to be investigated by the International Criminal Court.
The memo makes clear that an initial examination of the operation that began in 2018 has ended, and warns that at this point no “suspects or targets” have been identified. He also explains that the investigation, which will now begin, aims to “establish the truth and whether or not there are grounds for bringing charges against anyone.”
This announcement opens hopes to hundreds of victims of arbitrary arrests, as well as to relatives of victims of extrajudicial executions and political prisoners who have denounced torture in the prisons of the Venezuelan military and intelligence. Human rights defenders have described the decision as a huge advance in the search for justice. Maduro’s government made a series of last-minute judicial reforms And he launched a few publications with the aim of delaying this move that hits his image internationally.
In the memorandum, the Office of the International Criminal Prosecutor asserts that it will acknowledge the efforts made by the state to improve the judicial system. Last December, former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda concluded that there was sufficient evidence of crimes to be up to her jurisdiction to investigate. The move to the investigation phase has been expected since June, when Britain’s attorney general took office. Khan postponed his decision until this visit at the invitation of the Venezuelan government.
On his first tour of the region, the attorney general passed through Colombia, ending the process the country had been open to for 17 years. last week, In an interview with EL PAÍS, he said he came to Venezuela to listen and establish relationships. Venezuela should be proud to invite the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. I do not attend without an invitation. I will not visit them as a secret agent.”
This scenario was one of the most feared by the government, which is seeking to break the diplomatic fences raised by the international community in rejecting the authoritarian drift that Venezuela has been experiencing for years and which has caused a humanitarian crisis inside the country and another migrant in the region. Since May 2019, when the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, visited the country, a series of reports have been issued in which the scale of the violations and the Venezuelan political, economic and social catastrophe have been verified. The last of them, the second progress of the independent UN mission, indicated that the judicial system is the arm of repression against dissent in the country.
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With the extradition of Colombian businessman Alex Saab to the United States, which the government has turned into an important financial operator in Maduro’s vicinity, Chavismo is stuck in a new alley. After this coup by justice, he decided to withdraw from the negotiations he had started with the opposition in Mexico as a measure of protest. In two weeks, it will be measured in local and regional elections in which the opposition will participate and which will have international observers after 15 years of veto, but in an environment of significant social demobilization. Now, in addition, he must face a reversal of the investigation in The Hague.