The International Criminal Court in The Hague is an official investigation into the crimes against humanity that the authoritarian regime in Venezuela may have committed.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced on Wednesday, along with Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan.
In 2017, there were months of demonstrations against Maduro’s left-wing government, battling the opposition majority in parliament. During that period, many allegations were made of torture, arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment by security forces. At least 125 protesters were killed.
ICC prosecutor Khan has decided to move on to the next stage “to find the truth,” Maduro said. “We respect that decision, although we do not share that opinion.” Instead, Khan asks everyone to cooperate.
The International Criminal Court has been investigating Venezuela since 2018. Last year, the court said there is a “reasonable basis” to believe that the authoritarian regime has indeed committed crimes against humanity. Last year, the United Nations also found that Maduro’s regime was systematically guilty of human rights violations, including crimes against humanity such as murder and torture.
Human rights groups and Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó welcomed the news from The Hague. Guaidó wrote on Twitter that the investigation would enable victims and families to “claim the right to justice”. Something that Venezuelans have been “long denied”, according to him.
Proceedings at the International Criminal Court can take years, and in the past, it has not been easy to get issued arrest warrants to be executed. The International Criminal Court was set up in 2002 to prosecute suspects in connection with crimes committed on the territory of member states if they refuse or are unable to prosecute.