Crimes Against Humanity Committed in Venezuela, OAS Report Finds

A report presented today by a Panel of Independent International Experts designated by the Organization of American States (OAS) found "reasonable grounds"  to believe that crimes against humanity – defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute as “specific crimes committed as part of widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack” – were committed in Venezuela. Venezuela is a State Party to the Rome Statute and is therefore under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

The Panel of Independent International Expert consists of Sanitago Cantón (Argentina), Manuel Ventura Robles (Costa Rica), and Irwin Cotler (Canada). 

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Seven Major Crimes Against Humanity

The report’s conclusion is that seven major crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela:

  1. Murder and extrajudicial executions;

  2. Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of international law;
  3. Torture;
  4. Rape and other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
  5. Persecution on political grounds;
  6. Enforced disappearances of persons;
  7. And a state-orchestrated humanitarian crisis, resulting in thousands of preventable illnesses and deaths.

The experts found that each crime against humanity constituted a widespread and systematic attack directed against a civilian population, with the purpose of supressing political opponents of the Maduro regime.

Recommendations

To support the victims of Maduro’s Venezuela and end the culture of impunity that has impeded justice and encouraged further crimes against humanity, the Panel of Independent International Experts recommend that:

  • The OAS submit the Report to the ICC for the purposes of opening an investigation into the aforementioned crimes against humanity
  • The OAS invite State Parties to the Rome Statute to refer the situation of Venezuela to the ICC for the purposes of opening an investigation into the aforementioned crimes against humanity 

Only recourse to the ICC can bring justice to those who have been, those who continue to be, and those who may become, victims of Maduro's mass domestic repression. 

OAS Press Conference in Washington, D.C., on May 28, 2018.