An expert panel with the Organization of American States (OAS) released a report today in which it claimed that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that the Maduro regime has committed crimes against humanity in its brutal repression of political dissent over the past five years. The report is the most thorough and damming document compiled on the Maduro regime’s abuses against dissidents to date.

The report’s executive summary includes the following assessment:

After a comprehensive and thorough analysis and evaluation of the evidence, the Panel of Independent International Experts considers that there are reasonable grounds, that satisfy the standard proof required by Article 53 of the Rome Statute, for considering that acts to which the civilian population of Venezuela was subjected to dating back to at least February 12, 2014 constitutes crimes against humanity, in accordance with article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The report is 405 pages long and includes thorough descriptions of activities by regime forces that, in the opinion of the expert panelists, could constitute crimes against humanity. The crimes that the report outlines include murder, imprisonment, torture, rape, the persecution of political dissidents and enforced disappearances.

The experts made a formal recommendation for the secretary general of the OAS, Luis Almagro, to forward the report to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move that could trigger formal prosecution against regime officials.

Manuel Ventura Robles, one of the experts who compiled the report, spoke on the nature of the cases that the panel covered. He said:

Frankly, I’ve never been as morally affected as I have by the cases of torture we have found (…) Cases of torture against women, men, it’s all incomprehensible that this continues to occur in our continent.

The report was compiled over a period of approximately seven months, three of which included public consultations during which victims of regime repression provided testimony to the expert panel on their experiences at the hands of regime authorities. In total, the report includes the testimony from 26 witnesses to the alleged crimes against humanity, as well as “dozens” of individual testimonies from victims of regime repression and “other interested parties”.

The report also quantified some of the repression perpetrated by the regime in its crackdown on political dissent and protests, which includes:

  • 131 fatalities at the hands of regime forces and/or pro-government civilian armed groups in the 2014 and 2017 anti-government protests.
  • 8,292 extrajudicial killings since 2015.
  • Over 12,000 arbitrary arrests since 2013.
  • Over 1,300 political prisoners arrested since 2013

The Rome Statute is the international treaty that defines crimes against humanity. Article 7.1 of that document–to which Venezuela is a signatory–reads:

… “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(a)     Murder;

(b)     Extermination;

(c)     Enslavement;

(d)     Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

(e)     Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;

(f)     Torture;

(g)     Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;

(h)     Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

(i)     Enforced disappearance of persons;

(j)     The crime of apartheid;

(k)     Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

OAS Report Lists 11 Regime Officials As Individually Responsible

The OAS report includes a list of eleven regime officials which it identifies as being individually responsible for the alleged crimes against humanity committed in the country since 2013.

In naming the individuals, the report states that the International Criminal Court “should investigate principal responsibility” of the regime officials in the commission of the crimes.

The eleven regime officials listed as individually responsible for crimes against humanity are listed on page 243:

  • Nicolas Maduro, President of the Republic
  • Tareck El Aissami, Vice President of the Republic
  • Jorge Arreaza, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Elias Jaua, Vice President for Social Development
  • Jorge Rodriguez, Minister of Communication
  • Delcy Rodriguez, President of the Constituent Assembly
  • Vladimir Padrino Lopez, Minister of Defense
  • Nestor Luis Reverol, Minister of the Interior
  • Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, Head of the National Bolivarian Intelligence Service
  • Antonio Benavides Torres, Commander of the National Bolivarian Guard
  • Carlos Alfredo Perez Ampueda, Head of the National Bolivarian Police

The report also includes the names of 146 individuals whose activities it considers “also warrant criminal investigation for their alleged role in the violence and repression that has taken place in Venezuela”.

All 146 names have been redacted.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

8 thoughts on “05.29.18: Reasonable Grounds

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