Almagro: ICC Should Investigate Torture in Venezuela

Almagro: ICC Should Investigate Torture in Venezuela

By Voice of America
January 29, 2020

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On December 12, 2019, Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate torture in Venezuela inflicted on adversaries with the support of Cuban agents.

Almagro’s statements followed the presentation at OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. of the annual report on Venezuela by the Casla Institute, a Prague-based think tank focusing on Latin America.

The report accuses the disputed government of Nicolás Maduro of “systematic repression” and of perpetrating “crimes against humanity.”

Almagro said that the Casla Institute had found new evidence about torture methods used at clandestine centers in Venezuela, “under clear Cuban influence.”

“The systematic and generalized use of torture in Venezuela to attack those who aim to restore fundamental rights and democracy is clearly a crime against humanity that should be immediately investigated by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor,” Almagro said.

The OAS secretary general also stressed the lack of “essential guarantees” for citizens in Venezuela, where “the judicial system serves only the regime’s interests” and “security forces systematically persecute every individual who does not obey the dictatorial system.”

“Even in the country’s urban areas, which were traditionally loyal to the regime, now the government is sending the Police’s Special Action Forces [FAES, in Spanish], as well as ‘colectivos’ [illegal armed groups that support Maduro] to keep them under control and prevent any dissent,” he added.

“Thousands of extrajudicial killings” are taking place, particularly in these areas, he added.

Almagro said that the July report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported 5,287 extrajudicial killings in 2018 and 1,569 from January to May 2019, confirming what the OAS had already documented in 2018.

In February 2018, the ICC started preliminary investigations on alleged crimes committed in Venezuela during massive protests against Maduro in 2017, which left a death toll of 125.

In a report published on December 5, 2019, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor said that they expected to finish evaluating the documents provided by the OAS and the OHCHR, among others, “in early 2020.”