The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced today that it was starting a “preliminary examination” into allegations that the Maduro regime committed crimes against humanity in its brutal crackdown of opposition protests last year. The preliminary examination could result in the ICC opening a formal investigation into the case, and is only the first in a long and arduous judicial process.
The announcement was made by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who also took the opportunity to announce a similar measure for the violence that has gripped the Philippines in recent years.
On the Venezuelan case, Bensouda said:
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. In particular, 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 protestors resorted to violent means, resulting in some members of security forces being injured or killed.
Bensouda also explained that there is no way to gauge how long the preliminary examination will last, since there is no official limit on their length. At the conclusion of the examination, Bensouda laid out the three possible scenarios:
Depending on the facts and circumstances of each situation, I will decide whether to initiate an investigation, subject to judicial review as appropriate; continue to collect information to establish a sufficient factual and legal basis to render a determination; or decline to initiate an investigation if there is no reasonable basis to proceed.
Below, a video of Bensouda’s announcement:
The ICC’s preliminary examination is an important milestone in the history of Venezuela and the Maduro regime in particular. Today’s announcement marks the most serious recognition to date that the regime’s ruthless repression of anti-government protests and dissidents last year may have amounted to crimes against humanity.
At least 136 people were killed over four and a half months of anti-government unrest last year. The Maduro regime routinely engaged in heavy-handed repression of even peaceful protests, and is also alleged to have engaged in mass arbitrary arrests and torture of political dissidents.
Colombia Takes Special Measures to Face Venezuelan Migrants
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos traveled to the city of Cucuta on the border with Venezuela to announce a new set of measures meant to tackle the influx of Venezuelan migrants into the country.
Santos announced that the Colombian government would create a special group involving agents from the Colombian national police as well as the country’s migration and taxation authorities. Aside from creating the group, Santos said that an additional 3,000 police officers would be deployed to border crossings with Venezuela to help assist the movement of people and combat criminal elements in the area.
Citing the worsening crisis in Venezuela, Santos said that the Colombian government would work to ensure that employers did not take advantage of Venezuelan migrants. He also said that moving forward, Venezuelans would have a period of two months upon arrival in Colombia during which they must register as migrants.
Below, a short clip of Santos speaking about the measures:
Santos: We’re taking measures to have better control and provide better security at the border, and also to be able to generate more jobs to be able to absorb the many [Venezuelans] who are asking for employment. But, more than anything, what I’ve asked for is that we all work on this together because this isn’t just a problem for the government, it’s a problem for all Colombians and the Colombian state. And, if we work together, we’ll be able to face it more effectively.
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