Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry issued a “firm and categorical rejection” this Thursday following declarations from the International Criminal Court (ICC) that it will be opening a “preliminary investigation” into police abuses from April 2017 onwards. It did however assure its “complete contribution” to the preliminary investigation so as to clear its name.
The ICC’s decision was announced by Gambian Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, also nicknamed the “Tyrant-hunter”. Recently, Venezuela’s ex-Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, who is being hunted by Interpol on corruption charges, submitted documents to the ICC alleging against the Venezuelan State.
Venezuela’s Foreign Office issued a communique which cast the ICC preliminary investigation in doubt, explaining that “the figure of preliminary investigation is non-existent in the Rome Statutes (the founding constitution of the ICC)” to which Venezuela “reiterates its commitment to”.
The Foreign Office announcement assured the international community that Venezuela “is a democratic, social state based on human rights and justice”.
According to the press release, the Venezuelan state did not received any official approach from the ICC, but “surprisingly” found out about the “baseless accusations” through Bensouda’s written statement.
The ICC is defined as a “complementary” court, which is only able to open legal proceedings in cases in which national legal institutions fail to address them. Equally, as defined in the November 2013 Policy Paper, preliminary investigations “arise from the principal of complementariness. National jurisdictions have the primordial responsibility of ending impunity for the accused crimes”.
Following the ICC’s announcement, Venezuela’s Attorney General, Tarek William Saab, clarified that Venezuelan authorities have been, and are investigating and prosecuting the violent acts of 2017, deeming unnecessary and illegal any ICC intervention.
“The information which the ICC’s prosecutor has seems to be biased, she hasn’t had the opportunity to talk us to find out about the legal procedures we are carrying out regarding the violent acts which we saw in the country”.
The Attorney General’s office, he continued, “has documentation which shows that all of the cases have been attended by both the courts and the Ombudsman’s offices… we have meticulous reports about the imputations and accusations and we are willing to show her these”.
Despite such allegedly dubious bases for an ICC investigation or “preliminary investigation”, the Venezuelan government stated that “in the name of our international cooperation duties, (we) assure (the ICC) of our full contribution so that the mentioned deeds may be explained” so reads the communique from the Foreign Office.
Saab equally stated that “we are willing to supply relevant information to the Court to show that they hold no jurisdiction in this matter, in complete conformity with their constitution, our own laws, and international legislation”.
The ICC declaration, which also includes a “preliminary investigation” into the Philippines, proclaims that “following a careful, independent and impartial review of a number of communications and reports documenting alleged crimes potentially falling within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, I have decided to open a preliminary examination into each situation”.
“The preliminary examination of the situation in Venezuela will analyse crimes allegedly committed in this State Party since at least April 2017, in the context of demonstrations and related political unrest” explained the ‘Tyrant-hunter’ prosecutor, who, according to Saab’s declarations, has failed to both inform the Venezuelan authorities of the procedures.
“In particular” she continues, “it has been alleged that State security forces frequently used excessive force to disperse and put down demonstrations, and arrested and detained thousands of actual or perceived members of the opposition, a number of whom would have been allegedly subjected to serious abuse and ill-treatment in detention. It has also been reported that some groups of protesters resorted to violent means, resulting in some members of security forces being injured or killed”.
April 2017 saw opposition extremists block roads, attack and burn alive dark skinned citizens deemed to be government supporters, shoot upon security forces, burn buildings (including schools, preschools, universities, and public transport units), and place a bomb in a major square in Caracas with the prime objective of halting upcoming elections. Over 130 died as a direct result of their actions, including numerous policemen, firemen, and other security personnel. The number of deaths indirectly caused by, particularly, road blockades which prevented ambulances and other vehicles from freely circulating, is in the thousands.