FIDH and Provea react to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan’s Venezuela visit

Press release
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FIDH and Provea welcome the opening of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Venezuela by Prosecutor Karim Khan during his visit to Caracas this week. This office will be in charge of providing cooperation and technical assistance to the Venezuelan State to promote effective administration of justice, in accordance with international standards.

Caracas, 24 April 2024. The opening of the Office was agreed upon by the State and the OTP on 10 June 2023, by means of a confidential memorandum of understanding. On 3 November 2023, the State publicly committed to facilitate the effective performance of the activities of the Office of the Prosecutor within the country. During the recent visit of the ICC Prosecutor, the National Assembly, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Court of Justice announced the launch of a joint work plan between the authorities and the Office of the Prosecutor intended to implement the agreed technical assistance activities.

To date, both the memorandum of understanding that establishes the basis for technical cooperation with the Venezuelan government and the joint work plan are confidential. FIDH and Provea regret the lack of disclosure of these documents and urge against a harmful logic of confidentiality with regard to the cooperation and technical assistance intended to build and implement public policies; these are designed to strengthen the administration of justice in the national territory and should be discussed openly.

The Rome Statute of the ICC is based on the principle of complementarity: States parties have the first responsibility and right to investigate and sanction crimes against humanity, yet if they do not do so, it is up to the ICC Prosecutor to investigate these crimes. In the Venezuela Situation I, the judges of the Appeals Chamber have confirmed that the Venezuelan judicial system does not fulfill these roles and have confirmed the opening of the investigation phase. The phase of investigation into international crimes committed in Venezuela since 2014 has not been suspended. It has been underway since November 2021 and will continue to be the responsibility of the ICC Prosecutor’s Office team in The Hague.

Finally, FIDH and Provea welcome President Nicolas Maduro’s announcement inviting the the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to return to the country, following the suspension of its activities on 15 February 2024. We hope that the OCHCR’s return will come to fruition promptly and that it will resume its mandate under the same conditions that it has had until now.

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