OAS panel of experts urges ICC action on Venezuela

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Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro

WASHINGTON, USA – The OAS Panel of Independent International Experts on the Possible Commission of Crimes against Humanity in Venezuela (hereinafter “Panel”) was appointed by the secretary-general of the OAS on September 14, 2017, composed of Manuel Ventura Robles of Costa Rica, Santiago Canton of Argentina, and Professor Irwin Cotler of Canada.

On May 29, 2018, the Panel issued a report in which we concluded that there was a reasonable basis to consider that the acts to which the civilian population of Venezuela has been subjected, dating back to at least February 12, 2014, constitute crimes against humanity, in the terms of Article 7 of the Rome Statute, including the crimes of murder, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and enforced disappearances.

On September 27, 2018, six States Parties to the Rome Statute referred the situation in Venezuela to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor under the terms of Article 14(1) of the Statute.

Since the publication of the aforementioned report, we have monitored the situation in Venezuela and followed up on the progress of the preliminary examination that the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC has been carrying out.

On this occasion, taking into account the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber I of July 2, 2021, which rejected in limine the request for judicial review made by Venezuela as inadmissible, and the statement by former Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda indicating that she has reached a conclusion on the preliminary examination of the situation in Venezuela, this Panel considers that it is incumbent to announce the commencement of the investigation into the crimes that occurred in Venezuela.

Any further delay would be inappropriate and harmful to the people of Venezuela, enabling additional crimes against humanity and grave and systematic violations of human rights to occur. The Panel urges that any visit to the country be conducted as part of a full investigation, once it has been opened.

The Panel will continue to monitor the situation in Venezuela and stands ready to cooperate and assist in all that is within its powers, as it has been doing up to now.

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