Independent experts of the OAS affirm that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela

Aula Abierta – Juan Manuel Bracho.- On May 29, 2018, a report by a panel of independent international experts was published appointed by the General Secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS), where it was concluded that there is sufficient grounds to consider that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela, which go back at least to February 12, 2014.

The report has two parts, the first part was written by the General Secretariat of the OAS, includes material from witnesses who appeared during the public hearings organized in September, October and November 2017, plus all the material collected from the organized civil society in Venezuela and intergovernmental organizations. The second part was drafted by the Panel of Independent International Experts, along with it a legal evaluation of the information gathered, an examination of the jurisprudence and relevant international precedents are presented, as well as its conclusions and recommendations.

The report identifies 131 murder victims, murders that took place during the 2014 and 2017 demonstrations and were perpetrated by members of the state security forces and / or collectives (pro-government armed civilians), 8,292 documented extrajudicial executions since 2015, over 12,000 Venezuelans who were arbitrarily detained, imprisoned or subjected to other severe physical freedom deprivations since the presidential elections of 2013, more than 1,300 political prisoners: people who have been or are still detained because of their opposition to the government. In addition, it identifies a generalized and systematic pattern of abuse directed at an identified segment of the civilian population in Venezuela.

The report emphasizes the unfortunate situation occurred against university students in Venezuela: a group of experts allude to complaints made by Aula Abierta, an organization that in recent years has been documenting on human rights violations within the university sphere in conjunction with the Commission of Human Rights of the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences of the University of Zulia.

In the chapter entitled “INCARCERATION OR SERIOUS DEPRIVATION OF FREEDOM AS CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY”, of the previously mention report information provided by Aula Abierta where it can be seen that during the protests of 2017, at least 17 university professors were arbitrarily detained is highlighted. The reasons for their apprehension were of a different nature: from publication of critical ideas against state public policies to participation in demonstrations against the current Venezuelan government. Out of these 17 professors, 8 were brought before military courts, 6 before the ordinary courts and 3 were released from security forces detention centers. (See page 151, citations 222,223,224,225,226,227 of the OAS report).

Similarly, the report also highlights that at least 339 university students were arbitrarily detained and imprisoned during the months April to July 2017, many of them being brought before military courts and affected by custodial measures (See p. 153 of the OAS report). Additionally, the report emphasizes the work done by the Human Rights Commission of the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences of the University of Zulia in conjunction with Aula Abierta on the documentation of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against university students (See in citations 649, 651, 653, 656, 837, 839 of the OAS report wich make references to the report “Attack and reprisal against university professors and students in Venezuela”).

The panel of experts exhorted the OAS Secretary General to forward this Report and the evidence gathered by the OAS General Secretariat to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). They also urged the Secretary General to invite the States Parties to the Rome Statute to refer the situation of Venezuela to the ICC Prosecutor’s Office, and to request the Prosecutor to open an investigation into the crimes against humanity which are included in the submitted report, in accordance with the provisions of Article 14 of the Rome Statute.

It is important to note that neither the Panel nor the General Secretariat of the OAS have been able to conduct field missions in the territory in question in order to consult with national authorities, victims, civil society organizations or any other interested party. Venezuela is a State Party to the Rome Statute, and the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over any crime committed within the territory of Venezuela or by Venezuelan nationals since July 1st, 2002.

Link del informe: http://www.oas.org/documents/spa/press/Informe-Panel-Independiente-Venezuela-ES.pdf

Informes de interés: Attack and reprisal against university professors and students in Venezuela http://aulaabiertavenezuela.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/05-2018-Restricciones-y-represalias-contra-estudiantes-y-profesores-universitarios-en-Venezuela-Febrero-Julio-2017.pdf 

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