International Criminal Court to probe abuses in Venezuela

Nov 3, 2021, 3:20 AM | Updated: 6:31 pm
Andreina Baduel wears a T-shirt that reads in Spanish "Justice and freedom" and holds a sign with p...

Andreina Baduel wears a T-shirt that reads in Spanish "Justice and freedom" and holds a sign with pictures of people during a protest against political prisoners outside the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), known as the Helicoide, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Nov 3, 2021. Andreina's father, former Defense Minister Raúl Isaías Baduel, died while in prison. The sign at right reads "Enough persecution!." (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The International Criminal Court is opening a formal investigation into allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings committed by Venezuelan security forces under President Nicolás Maduro’s rule, the first time a country in Latin America is facing scrutiny for possible crimes against humanity from the court.

The opening of the probe was announced Wednesday by ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan at the end of a three-day trip to Caracas.

Standing alongside Maduro, Khan said he was aware of the political “fault lines” and “geopolitical divisions” that exist in Venezuela. But he said his job was to uphold the principles of legality and the rule of law, not settle scores.

“I ask everybody now, as we move forward to this new stage, to give my office the space to do its work,” he said. “I will take a dim view of any efforts to politicize the independent work of my office.”

While Khan didn’t outline the scope of the ICC’s investigation, it follows a lengthy preliminary probe started in February 2018 — later backed by Canada and five Latin American governments opposed to Maduro — that focused on allegations of excessive force, arbitrary detention and torture by security forces during a crackdown on antigovernment protests in 2017.

Human rights groups and the U.S.-backed opposition immediately celebrated the decision. Since its creation two decades ago, the ICC has mostly focused on atrocities committed in Africa.

“This is a turning point,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch. “Not only does it provide hope to the many victims of Maduro’s government but it also is a reality check that Maduro himself could be held accountable for crimes committed by his security forces and others with total impunity in the name of the Bolivarian revolution.”

It could be years before any criminal charges are presented as part of the ICC’s investigation.

Maduro said he disagreed with Khan’s criteria in choosing to open the probe. But he expressed optimism that a three-page “letter of understanding” he signed with the prosecutor that would allow Venezuelan authorities to carry out their own proceedings in search of justice, something allowed under the Rome statute that created the ICC.

“I guarantee that in this new phase we will leave the noise to the side and get down to work so that, together, the truth can be found,” said Maduro.

Maduro’s government last year also asked the ICC to investigate the U.S. — which is not among the ICC’s 123 member states — for its policy of economic sanctions focused on removing Maduro. Venezuela considers the U.S. sanctions tantamount to “unlawful coercive measures” that have spelled poverty for millions of Venezuelans.

Khan’s predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, had indicated there was a reasonable basis to conclude that crimes against humanity had been committed in Venezuela, echoing the findings of the U.N.’s own human rights council last year. But she left the decision to open any probe to her successor Khan, a British lawyer who took the reins of the ICC earlier this year.

Goodman reported from Miami

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Playa Salinas is flooded after the passing of Hurricane Fiona in Salinas, Puerto Rico, Monda...
Associated Press

‘We’re with you,’ Biden tells Puerto Rico ahead of visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday will survey damage from Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people are still without power two weeks after the storm hit. The Category 1 hurricane knocked out electrical power to the U.S. territory of 3.2 million people, 44% of whom live below the […]
21 hours ago
People relax at the beach front in Mazatlan, Mexico, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Hurricane Orlene, at Cat...
Associated Press

Hurricane Orlene roars toward Mexico’s Pacific coast

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Hurricane Orlene roared toward Mexico’s Pacific coast between the tourist towns of Mazatlan and San Blas on Monday, with authorities there suspending classes and setting up shelters. After growing into a hurricane Saturday, Orlene quickly added power, peaking as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: October 3, MLB’s first Black manager

Today in History Today is Monday, Oct. 3, the 276th day of 2022. There are 89 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Oct. 3, 1995, the jury in the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles found the former football star not guilty of the 1994 slayings of his former wife, […]
21 hours ago
FILE - A person walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index and U.S. doll...
Associated Press

Business sentiments cool as cheap yen, costs weigh on Japan

TOKYO (AP) — Business sentiment among large manufacturers worsened for the third straight quarter, a Bank of Japan survey showed Monday, as the nation grappled with rising costs, the dropping value of the yen and restrictions on economic activity over the coronavirus pandemic. The headline measure for the “tankan,” measuring sentiment among large manufacturers, was […]
21 hours ago
FILE - King Charles III salutes as he leaves Westminster Abbey following the state funeral service ...
Associated Press

King Charles III to host South African leader in state visit

LONDON (AP) — King Charles III will welcome South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to the U.K. for three days of high-level talks next month, celebrating the first state visit of his reign with the leader of a Commonwealth member with close ties to the royal family. Ramaphosa has accepted Charles’s invitation for a state visit […]
21 hours ago
FILE - El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele participates in the closing ceremony of a congress for ...
Associated Press

In El Salvador, army surrounds town to root out gang

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — More than 2,000 soldiers and police surrounded and closed off a town in El Salvador Sunday in order to search for street gang members accused in a killing. The large-scale encirclement of the town of Comasagua is the latest example of heavy-handed tactics by the government to root out […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
International Criminal Court to probe abuses in Venezuela