Venezuela: The icc Prosecutor's Office's main consideration when opening an investigation must be timely and effective justice for victims

Responding to the announcement by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in Venezuela, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

"The International Criminal Court has finally recognized the urgency of investigating crimes against humanity that multiple human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have documented and denounced for years in Venezuela. The Prosecutor's Office must thoroughly investigate the atrocities committed against the Venezuelan people, pursuing cases against those who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity."

The ICC Prosecutor has announced the conclusion of his Office's preliminary examination of Venezuela – which he had opened in 2018 – with the determination that a full investigation is warranted. The Prosecutor's Office had previously found that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela under the government of Nicolás Maduro since at least 2017, including arbitrary detentions, use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as persecution.

The Prosecutor's Office must thoroughly investigate the atrocities committed against the Venezuelan people

-Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

In a public announcement, Prosecutor Khan and President Maduro explained that they had agreed to a "Letter of Understanding." Prosecutor Khan also stressed the importance of "positive complementarity" in his approach to the Venezuela investigation.

"This is the first ICC investigation in a country in the Americas. To be effective, the ICC must begin as soon as possible, and it must impartially investigate those most responsible for the systematic policy of repression and social control in Venezuela, since at least 2014, as the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission pointed out in its reports of September 2020 and September 2021." added Erika Guevara Rosas.

"While a cooperative approach to investigations would be desirable, the Prosecutor should heed the calls of victims who have not yet seen justice and recognize that the intervention of his Prosecutor's Office is urgent so that crimes against humanity in Venezuela are promptly and effectively investigated. Although the 'principle of complementarity' urges the Prosecutor to ask the Venezuelan authorities to conduct independent and impartial investigations internally in Venezuela, it should not be considered only state procedures at any cost. In particular, when States are not really willing or able to investigate and prosecute crimes under international law, including those most responsible or at their own."

"Above all, the Prosecutor's approach must ensure that the rights to justice of victims and survivors of human rights violations in the country are respected and fulfilled by the Court and within Venezuela. It is paramount that human rights defenders who have sought justice before the ICC are protected from any reprisals."