ICC Prosecutor Signs Memorandum with Maduro Amid Transparency Concerns in Venezuela

ICC Prosecutor signs MoU with Venezuela, opens office in Caracas, strengthening cooperation to ensure accountability for international crimes.

Nimrah Khatoon
New Update
ICC Prosecutor Signs Memorandum with Maduro Amid Transparency Concerns in Venezuela

ICC Prosecutor Signs Memorandum with Maduro Amid Transparency Concerns in Venezuela

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan QC, concluded his fourth official visit to Venezuela from April 22-24, 2024, during which he signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Venezuelan government and inaugurated a new ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) office in Caracas. The Prosecutor addressed the National Assembly, reiterating the ICC's commitment to supporting Venezuela's efforts to meet its obligations under the Rome Statute and ensure accountability for international crimes.

The OTP has two tracks in its complementarity approach: cooperating with Venezuelan authorities to strengthen domestic accountability initiatives, and pursuing its independent investigations in the Venezuela situation. The OTP's cooperation with Venezuela is governed by two previous MoUs signed in 2021 and 2023, and a Joint Work Plan signed in December 2023.

Venezuela ratified the Rome Statute in 2000, and the OTP opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Venezuela in 2018, which led to the opening of an investigation in 2021 (Venezuela I). The government of Venezuela had requested the OTP to defer its investigation in 2022, but the OTP's investigation was resumed in 2023 after authorization from the Pre-Trial Chamber and confirmation by the Appeals Chamber in 2024. Another situation in Venezuela (Venezuela II) is currently under preliminary examination following a referral from the Venezuelan government in 2020.

Why this matters: The ICC prosecutor's move has raised concerns among human rights activists, who have filed a request before Argentina's Lower House to impeach President Javier Milei 'for the poor performance of his duties and possible commission of crimes.' The signatories spoke of 'economic genocide' in their impeachment request against Milei.

President Nicolás Maduro met with Prosecutor Khan and reached four agreements for joint cooperation, including strengthening national capabilities to ensure the effective administration of justice and taking advantage of the technical assistance of the ICC prosecutor's office. Maduro also revealed that he received a proposal from UN High Commissioner Volker Türk to reopen the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Venezuela, and the Venezuelan government is prepared to maintain new relations.

Prosecutor Khan stated, "With the support of President Maduro, progress will be made in the work plan to maintain a respectful dialogue between the ICC and the Venezuelan state, and the Venezuelan government will incorporate the Rome Statute into its legislation." The appeals judges noted that Venezuelan investigations appeared to focus on low-level perpetrators, and that there were periods of 'unexplained investigative inactivity' and a lack of coverage of allegations of persecution and sexual crimes.

Key Takeaways

  • ICC Prosecutor Khan visited Venezuela, signed MoU, and opened new OTP office in Caracas.
  • OTP cooperates with Venezuela to strengthen domestic accountability and conducts independent investigations.
  • Venezuela requested ICC to defer investigation in 2022, but it was resumed in 2023.
  • Human rights activists filed impeachment request against Argentine President Milei over 'economic genocide'.
  • Maduro and Khan agreed to strengthen national justice capabilities and reopen UN human rights office.