Venezuela (past preliminary examination)

There is one open investigation in Venezuela (Venezuela I) and one ongoing preliminary examination (Venezuela II). The investigation in Venezuela I focuses on alleged atrocity crimes committed in the context of political unrest and related detentions in Venezuela since April 2017, and the preliminary examination in Venezuela II involves crimes allegedly resulting from US sanctions. The OTP closed in 2006 a past preliminary examination into alleged atrocity crimes (crimes against humanity) committed during a 2002 conflict (an attempted coup d’état).

Venezuela (past preliminary examination)

The first preliminary examination (now closed) in Venezuela focused on alleged atrocity crimes (crimes against humanity) committed during a conflict which involved Venezuelan government forces and political opposition groups and which occurred in April 2002.

President Hugo Chavez was elected to the presidency in July 2000. His presidency saw increased polarization among citizens as his power grew, resulting in his vast control of the Venezuelan government. On April 11, 2002, between 400,000 and 600,000 people participated in a march in Caracas outside the Miraflores Palace, the presidential palace, to demand the resignation of President Chavez. The march devolved into violence between Chavez opposition and government forces, resulting in more than 13 dead and more than 100 injured. President Chavez was taken into custody, and opposition business leader, Pedro Carmona proclaimed himself president. Just 48 hours later, on April 14, Chavez was returned to power.

Venezuela ratified the Rome Statute on June 7, 2000. The ICC has jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed since July 1, 2002. On an unspecified date, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) opened a preliminary examination into allegations of atrocity crimes.

On February 9, 2006, the OTP closed the preliminary examination on the grounds that the Rome Statute’s requirements for opening a formal investigation had not been met. The OTP noted that, as the ICC has jurisdiction over crimes committed since July 1, 2002 and most of the allegations were of crimes committed in April 2002, the ICC had no temporal jurisdiction over those alleged crimes. With regard to the remaining allegations of crimes committed after July 2002, the OTP concluded that, after considering the information available, there was no reasonable basis to open a formal investigation.