ICC Prosecutor will open office in Venezuela

ICC Prosecutor will open office in Venezuela

The prosecution of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will open an office in Venezuela, confirmed prosecutor Karim Khan, in joint statements with President Nicolás Maduro, during an official visit that was made public on Thursday.

“The parties have agreed that my prosecution will be able to open an office here in Caracas, it is a very important step, very significant, it is something concrete that will allow it to fulfill the responsibilities in accordance with the Rome Statute,” Khan said through of the state channel.

“The prosecution also has special advisers who will be able to provide technical assistance to Venezuela to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, so that we can deepen and strengthen our alliances,” he said.

The prosecutor added that he agreed with the Venezuelan State to issue “multiple entry visas” that will be granted to various members of his team to be able to access Venezuela “in a simple way”, as well as work meetings between technical teams from his office and members of the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

Khan stressed that they reached a “consensus” in the sense that he will be able to work with international organizations, “collaborating with the support of Venezuela”, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to have assistance and ensure that the memorandum of understanding signed in November can be “put into practice”.

Khan said that Maduro has reiterated to him that investigations carried out by the ICC prosecution “they are not justified”.

In addition, he proposed to hold a high-level conference in Caracas, in the second half of 2023, to work on new ways of exchanging technical knowledge about the Rome Statute and complementarity.

Maduro assured that the Venezuelan prosecutor’s office will allow them to reach a level of “effective dialogue, in real time, more efficient and a level of technical assistance that allows the November memorandum of understanding to continue its course.”

“We are interested in the full prevalence of human rights, in the enjoyment of social and political rights by our people, we are the first interested in seeing justice done,” said the president.

A step”

consulted by VOAAli Daniels, director of Access to Justice, an NGO dedicated to promoting the defense of justice, the rule of law, the separation of powers and judicial independence in Venezuela, considers it positive that it has been agreed to open an office of the ICC prosecutor’s office in Venezuela.

“It means no more than the action of the ICC prosecution in Venezuela. We welcome this as a positive development and we hope that not only the Office of the High Commissioner will be included in the aspects of collaboration with this Office, but also the Fact-Finding Mission,” he said Thursday afternoon.

The human rights defender and 2015 member of Parliament, Delsa Solórzano, reacted by assuring that the prosecutor came to Venezuela to “demand that the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in November 2021 be complied with.”

“The competence of the ICC is ratified. Justice always comes,” she added on her Twitter account.

Different sectors of civil society in Venezuela have insisted that the judicial reforms that the Maduro government claims to be carrying out seek to “evade” the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Last week, the International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela reiterated its concern regarding the “limited” scope of the investigations of some behaviors that could constitute crimes against humanity against “low-level” material authorities, which is why they are expanding the current investigations to the “highest” responsibilities of the chain of command.

In November 2021, the ICC prosecutor ordered the opening of a formal investigation into Venezuela for alleged crimes against humanity and signed a memorandum of understanding with the State, based on the principle of positive complementarity established in the Rome Statute.

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