The International Criminal Court Believes that Human Rights Are Being Violated in Venezuela
By Federico N. Fernández, Fundacion Bases/AEC
Important progress has been made in order to bring Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro to court for crimes against humanity. On November 5, Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), stated that there is “a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have occurred in Venezuela.”
Prosecutor Bensouda’s statements coincided with the closing of the second phase of the preliminary examination to consider the opening of a trial. Phases three and four now remain in the examination process. In these phases, the ICC must evaluate, on the one hand, whether the Venezuelan state itself has already duly tried those responsible for the crimes and, on the other hand, whether it is in the interest of international justice to punish these crimes.
Needless to say, both the mid- and high-level persons in charge (i.e., Maduro and his henchmen) have not been tried in Venezuela. Moreover, this case perhaps has the greatest importance for the ICC since it is not about crimes against humanity orchestrated in the past, but about human rights violations that continue to happen every day in today’s Venezuela.
A Little Bit of History
The involvement of the ICC dates back to September 2018, when the governments of Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, and Peru requested the international prosecution of the flagrant human rights violations committed by the government of Nicolás Maduro.
Maduro’s accusers highlighted that, just between 2015 and 2017, 8,290 murders were carried out by Chavista agents and by orders of the government. Detentions for political reasons are extremely common, as well as the violent actions of the colectivos chavistas and repression of civil society in general.
What is more, a 443-page report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission ordered by the United Nations (UN) presented in September leaves no doubt about the crimes against humanity committed by Maduro’s government.
In order to raise awareness on the need for trial and punishment of human rights violations in Venezuela, the Naumann Foundation for Freedom (Germany), Club de los Viernes (Spain) and the Fundación Internacional Bases (Argentina) launched the campaign #StopMaduro in 2019, which also includes a petition supporting the endeavor to hold Maduro to account.
The objective is to make clear that public opinion in Latin America and the rest of the world do not want Nicolás Maduro’s crimes to go unpunished. The ICC is moving in the right direction. All people of good faith should let Fatou Bensouda know that it is time to accelerate the procedure, prosecute Nicolás Maduro, and stop the crimes against humanity in Venezuela once and for all.
Federico N. Fernández is president of Fundación Internacional Bases and Senior Fellow of the Austrian Economics Center.