Karim Khan, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), will today conclude a ten-day visit to Venezuela and
Karim Khan, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), will today conclude a ten-day visit to Venezuela and Colombia.
The trip began amid two preliminary examinations by the ICC. The first, an examination of crimes committed during Colombia’s civil conflict, was closed during Khan’s visit. The second, an examination of whether to investigate crimes against humanity committed by the regime of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, remains ongoing.
The visit was initiated by the invitation of Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, who hopes to avoid an ICC investigation by convincing the court that the Venezuelan government is prosecuting human rights abusers itself. To this end, Saab has opened judicial proceedings against a few state officials and released several activists from prison.
Saab, having delayed a decision through procedural motions, is gambling that Khan will look more favorably on Venezuela than his predecessor, Fatou Bensouda. It is unlikely that his gamble will meet with much success—if the evidence was sufficient for Bensouda, it likely will be for Khan as well. Expect the investigation to target incumbent government officials for prosecution, which may undermine Maduro’s support and will likely handicap ongoing negotiations with the opposition in Mexico City.
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