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Panel of Independent International Experts Finds “Reasonable Grounds” for Crimes against Humanity Committed in Venezuela

  May 29, 2018

In their report and executive summary presented today, a panel of independent international experts designated by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) found that reasonable grounds exist to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela dating back to at least February 12, 2014.

The panel of experts - Santiago Cantón (Argentina), Irwin Cotler (Canada), and Manuel Ventura Robles (Costa Rica),– recommended that:

• The Secretary General of the OAS should submit the report and the evidence collected by the General Secretariat of the OAS to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
• The Secretary General should invite States Parties to the Rome Statute to refer the situation of Venezuela to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC and to call for the opening of an investigation into the crimes against humanity set forth in this report, in accordance with Article 14 of the Rome Statute.

The 400-page report, supported by 400 pages of Annexes, is divided in two parts. Part I, written by the OAS General Secretariat, includes material provided by witnesses who testified during the public hearings conducted in September, October, and November 2017, and material collected from interested parties, Venezuelan civil society and intergovernmental organizations. Part II of the report was written by the Panel of Independent International Experts, and provides a legal assessment of the information gathered, an examination of relevant international jurisprudence and precedent, as well as their conclusions and recommendations.

This report includes:

26 testimonies from witnesses that testified during 5 public hearings organized by the OAS General Secretariat. (Videos of the hearings are available here)
As well as dozens of testimonies from victims, victims’ families, and other interested parties submitted to the OAS General Secretariat, through the process.
• Written submissions provided by over 40 Venezuelan and international non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations.

Among other findings, the report:

• Identifies 131 murder victims of the 2014 and 2017 protests where the perpetrator has been identified as a member of the state security forces and/or the colectivos.
• Identifies 8,292 extrajudicial executions recorded since 2015.
• Identifies more than 12,000 Venezuelans arbitrarily detained, imprisoned or subject to other severe deprivation of physical liberty since the 2013 Presidential elections.
• Identifies more than 1300 political prisoners: people that have been or still are detained because of their opposition to the Government.
• Identifies a widespread and systematic pattern of abuse targeting an identified segment of the civilian population in Venezuela.

Neither the Panel nor the OAS General Secretariat have had the possibility of undertaking field missions to the territory concerned in order to consult with national authorities, victims, civil society organizations, or other interested parties. The publicly available version of the report includes sections that have been redacted to protect the identity of victims and/or their family members who fear reprisal for testifying about crimes and abuses.

Crimes against Humanity are defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute as “specific crimes committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack”.

Venezuela is a State Party to the Rome Statute, and the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over any crimes committed in the territory of Venezuela or by Venezuelan nationals since July 1, 2002.

More information on the process is available here.

Press contact: Mónica Reyes a ([email protected]

Reference: E-031/18