Written by Staff Writer
Joseph Farrell is an Investigative Specialist for CNN
At the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Human Rights Watch has filed a complaint with the ICC alleging crimes against humanity being committed by Nicolas Maduro’s government. The process currently moves through the pre-trial stage in the International Criminal Court’s chamber of judges.
At a press conference on Monday, Executive Director for the International Commission of Jurists, Geoff Ramsey, provided the following statements:
*On the human rights situation in Venezuela
#Venezuela is on the brink of becoming one of the most extreme horror stories, the kind that doesn’t exist today
Thousands of people have been killed and thousands more injured and/or displaced. 3,000 children have been internally displaced. Tens of thousands of people have died from diseases and malnutrition-related conditions, and at least 60,000 people have become known as “deserted corpses.” Children and families in the region, and the other surrounding countries, are in constant fear of being targeted by armed groups.
*On the fact finding mission of UN human rights experts
Part of the UN Human Rights Council consensus to come to Venezuela was to have an independent fact finding mission. That fact finding mission has found that the armed groups that are driving violence in Venezuela are ‘political’ and not ‘criminal.’ Political violence carried out by the armed groups target the country’s elected authorities, the private sector, the judiciary, and most of all, the United States-supported opposition leaders.
*On the involvement of Russia and China in the Venezuelan situation
In June 2015, Russia and China blocked an attempt to sanction senior Venezuelan officials when an investigation was presented before the Security Council by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on human rights abuses in Venezuela. During the challenge, the United States and a broad coalition of 47 independent and democratic states requested the Security Council examine reports of gross human rights violations and pushed for sanctions against Venezuela.
*On the likely impact of the ICC report
With the US imposing sanctions against Venezuela, the situation looks very bleak indeed. Venezuela will probably not have a functioning government for the next several years. There is no realistic prospect of an agreement being reached to hold free and fair elections to determine a government through a unicameral legislature.
*On the relationship between the ICC and the US
The ICC has a very good relationship with the United States. But the very fact that there is an investigation is going to have a very negative impact on US-ICC relations and of course, on US-Venezuelan relations. We cannot forget that the US government as well as the Maduro government have used a range of diplomatic and economic measures, including travel bans and sanctions, in their efforts to undermine or arrest some ICC-indicted individuals.
*On what should be done with respect to prosecution of crimes against humanity in Venezuela
We should not rule out the possibility of one of the very small number of national jurisdictions that have taken the lead on international criminal justice and have looked at the post-trauma to see what other options they might have as a follow up to the ICC’s investigation.