Statement : |

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on the referral by a group of six States Parties regarding the situation in Venezuela

On 27 September 2018, I received a referral from a group of States Parties to the Rome Statute (the "Statute"), namely the Argentine Republic, Canada, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Chile, the Republic of Paraguay and the Republic of Peru (the "referring States"), regarding the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ("Venezuela") since 12 February 2014.

Pursuant to article 14 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court"), the referring States request the Prosecutor to initiate an investigation on crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the territory of Venezuela since 12 February 2014, with the view to determining whether one or more persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes. Accordingly, pursuant to Regulation 45 of the Regulations of the Court, I have informed the ICC Presidency of this referral.

This is the ninth referral received by my Office since the Rome Statute came into force on 1 July 2002, and the first referral submitted by a group of States Parties concerning a situation on the territory of another State Party. Previously, the Governments of Uganda (2004), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2004), the Central African Republic (2004 and 2014), Mali (2012), the Union of the Comoros (2013), the Gabonese Republic (2016) and the State of Palestine (2018) have each referred a situation to my Office in accordance with their prerogatives as States Parties to the Statute.

On 8 February 2018, following a careful, independent and impartial review of a number of communications and reports documenting alleged crimes potentially falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC, I decided to open a preliminary examination of the situation in Venezuela to analyse crimes allegedly committed in this State Party since at least April 2017, in the context of demonstrations and related political unrest. Since then, my Office has been assessing the information available in order to reach a fully-informed determination of whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation. This preliminary examination will continue to follow its normal course, strictly guided by the requirements of the Rome Statute.

Specifically, under article 53(1) of the Statute, as Prosecutor, I must consider issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice in making this determination. As noted in the Office's Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations, these factors are applied to all situations, irrespective of whether the preliminary examination was initiated on the basis of information on crimes submitted pursuant to article 15 of the Statute, by a referral from a State Party (or a group of States Parties) or the United Nations Security Council, or by a declaration accepting the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court, pursuant to article 12(3) of the Statute. In all circumstances, my Office independently evaluates and analyses the information available.

A referral or an article 12(3) declaration does not automatically lead to the opening of an investigation. Should I, however, ultimately determine that the situation referred warrants an investigation in accordance with the statutory criteria, as a result of this referral, the Statute does not require the Prosecutor to seek authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Court in order to proceed with an investigation.  As a general matter, the receipt of a referral may expedite the process of opening an investigation only to the extent that judicial review of my decision would not be required under the Statute.

In the independent and impartial exercise of its mandate, my Office gives consideration to all submissions and views conveyed to it during the course of each preliminary examination, including any observation by the competent national authorities concerning any relevant investigation and prosecution at the national level.

Referral of the situation in Venezuela under Article 14 of the Rome Statute submitted by the Republic of Argentina, Canada, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Chile, the Republic of Paraguay and the Republic of Peru.

For background information, see the Office of the Prosecutor's Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations, November 2013, particularly para. 27; and Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, on opening Preliminary Examinations into the situations in the Philippines and in Venezuela.

The ICC's Office of the Prosecutor conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression. Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC's jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d'Ivoire; Mali; Georgia; and Burundi. Pre-Trial Chamber II is seized of the Prosecutor's request for authorisation to commence an investigation into the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Bangladesh/Myanmar; Colombia; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Palestine; the Philippines; Nigeria; Ukraine; and Venezuela.

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Source : Office of the Prosecutor