Since 2014, the Venezuelan authorities have responded to mass protests against Nicolas Maduro’s government with systematic repression. According to the United Nations and others documenting these events, the Venezuelan authorities have executed, tortured, and forcibly disappeared hundreds of civilians, and arbitrarily detaining thousands more.
In November 2021, the ICC authorized an investigation into the situation in Venezuela, marking the first time the Court has undertaken a full investigation in Latin American. This is a potential first step towards accountability for crimes committed in Venezuela since at least 2014. The Docket has been gathering evidence of these international crimes even before the investigation was announced, and will now lend investigative support to the ICC to help fill gaps in its investigation with solid evidence that will hold up in international courtrooms.
This is the first-ever ICC investigation in a Latin America country and is a real step on the path to justice for the people who have suffered torture, arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions and other serious human rights violations in Venezuela.Ignacio Jovtis - Senior Program Manager at The Docket
The ICC has limited access to Venezuela. The Docket will focus on gathering evidence about incidents of abuses and the perpetrators that are missing from its investigation. We are doing this through extensive interviews with witnesses and survivors who have managed to escape the country and are now living in safety. The Docket’s team of lawyers and investigators, supported by law firms acting in a pro-bono capacity, is conducting interviews with Venezuelan victims and witnesses—thus far in Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, and Spain—and collecting other documentation. We are building case files linking Venezuelan officials to the crimes identified in the OTP’s preliminary investigation, and, as the case develops, plan to assist with the representation of the victims before the ICC.
The cost of what is happening in Venezuela to its people is devastating. Open-source archives of interviews with victims and their families show the extent of the human rights abuses that have been taking place since 2014, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual abuse, and killings.
He says, "Look, I'm in trouble, the same thing I've always been doing. I am in trouble and there are three scenarios that can happen, they can kill me, they can put me in jail or, the most tragic is that they disappear me. If they disappear me, then you won't find me anywhere, they won't respect my rights and then I don't know what could happen to me and, as a human, I am afraid of that".Alcedo Mora Carrero - Son of enforced disappearance victim
The Docket team has interviewed many victims who have managed to escape Venezuela and is compiling evidence of the wide spread and systematic abuses in the country to help the ICC investigation.
In Venezuela, activists, human rights organizations, and journalists have been speaking out and denouncing what is happening for many years. As a team of lawyers, The Docket is trying to push this case forward and support their efforts using our legal expertise.
Reporters Without Borders reports that many journalists have fled the country since 2018 because of physical danger. Both print and online media sources have suffered from harassment, including repeated cyberattacks.
“The extremely tense climate for journalists is reinforced by Maduro’s frequent references to “media warfare” in an attempt to discredit national and international media criticism of his administration.” – Reporters Without Borders
Since 2017, Reporters Without Borders have registered a record number of arrests and violence against journalists by intelligence services and police. Venezuela is currently 148th out of 180 countries on the world press freedom rankings.
For in-depth reports from the UN and the ICC on the situation in Venezuela and why the case was open, as well as open-source testimony from victims and their families gathered by Archivo Público de Voces, visit the links below.