ICC Prosecutor Opens Technical Assistance Office in Venezuela Amid Ongoing Investigations

The ICC opens a technical assistance office in Venezuela to investigate alleged crimes against humanity by the Maduro government during 2017 protests, signaling a shift in the ongoing investigations.

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Nimrah Khatoon
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ICC Prosecutor Opens Technical Assistance Office in Venezuela Amid Ongoing Investigations

ICC Prosecutor Opens Technical Assistance Office in Venezuela Amid Ongoing Investigations

On April 23, 2024, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan announced the opening of a technical assistance office in Venezuela. The move comes as the ICC continues its investigations into alleged crimes against humanity committed by the government of President Nicolás Maduro during a crackdown on protests in 2017.

During his visit to Caracas, Khan met with Maduro and other Venezuelan officials to collaboratively create a workplan for the investigations and sign cooperation agreements with state institutions. The new technical assistance office will support efforts to enhance national justice initiatives and increase the ICC's presence on the ground in Venezuela. "This step constitutes a singular chance to further investigations into crimes against humanity in Venezuela," Khan stated.

The ICC's investigation in Venezuela stems from a petition filed by the right-wing opposition, accusing the Maduro government of committing crimes against humanity during the violent anti-government protests in 2017. While Caracas has cooperated with the ICC prosecutor's office, it has also criticized the investigation as biased and politically driven. Venezuelan authorities emphasize that domestic courts are investigating and prosecuting state officials suspected of abuses, but the ICC has determined that these investigations are focused on lower-level perpetrators.

Why this matters: The opening of the ICC's technical assistance office in Venezuela signifies a meaningful development in the ongoing investigations into alleged human rights abuses committed by the Maduro government. The increased presence of the ICC in the country could put pressure on Venezuelan authorities to hold high-level officials accountable for their actions during the 2017 protests.

Khan's visit to Venezuela also coincides with a rare concession from Maduro, who expressed his willingness to receive an envoy from the United Nations' human rights office. This comes after the Venezuelan government had previously asked UN human rights staff to leave the country following a critical report. Maduro stated that he is ready to "receive the envoy of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk to discuss the differences and conflicts that had arisen, in order to overcome them."

Key Takeaways

  • ICC opens technical assistance office in Venezuela to investigate alleged crimes against humanity.
  • ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan meets with Maduro to collaborate on investigations and sign cooperation agreements.
  • Venezuela cooperates with ICC but criticizes investigation as biased, says domestic courts are prosecuting abuses.
  • ICC presence in Venezuela could pressure authorities to hold high-level officials accountable for 2017 protests.
  • Maduro expresses willingness to receive UN human rights envoy, after previously asking them to leave.