On 13 February 2020, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC received a referral from the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela a referral under article 14 of the Rome Statute regarding the situation in its own territory, in accordance with its prerogatives as a State Party to the Rome Statute.
Pursuant to article 14(1) of the Rome Statute, the referring State requests the Prosecutor to initiate an investigation into crimes against humanity allegedly committed on the territory of Venezuela, with the view to determining whether one or more persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes. In its referral, the Government of Venezuela states that crimes against humanity are committed "as a result of the application of unlawful coercive measures adopted unilaterally by the government of the United States of America against Venezuela, at least since the year 2014."
On 19 February 2020, the Presidency assigned the Situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela II to Pre-Trial Chamber III.
A State Party referral does not automatically lead to the opening of an investigation. The receipt of a referral may expedite the process of opening an investigation only to the extent that judicial review of the Prosecutor's decision to open an investigation would not be required under the Statute.
Specifically, under article 53(1) of the Statute, the Prosecutor must consider issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice in making this determination. The Office will independently evaluate and analyse all information available and give consideration to all submissions and views conveyed to it, including any observation by the competent national authorities concerning any relevant investigation and prosecution at the national level.