ICC Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, receives high-level delegation from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the context of its ongoing preliminary examinations
On 4 November 2020, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”), Mrs Fatou Bensouda, met with a high level delegation from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (“Venezuela”), which included the Attorney General, Mr Tarek William Saab, and the Venezuelan Ombudsperson, Mr Alfredo Ruiz, at the Seat of the Court in The Hague, The Netherlands.
The meeting offered an opportunity for the Office to exchange with the delegation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on a number of aspects relating to the preliminary examination process and on the status of the two separate preliminary examinations conducted by the Office in relation to Venezuela (“Venezuela I” and “Venezuela II”), initiated in February 2018 and February 2020 respectively.
For their part, the Venezuelan authorities welcomed the Prosecutor’s availability to meet with them despite the current restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and renewed their commitment to support the Prosecutor and her Office in their independent and impartial work with respect to both situations concerning Venezuela.
With respect to the situation of Venezuela I, the Prosecutor conveyed to the delegation that the Office had concluded its subject-matter assessment and determined that there was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have occurred in Venezuela. In this regard, the Office sought information on relevant domestic proceedings and their conformity with Rome Statute requirements.
With respect to the situation in Venezuela II, the Prosecutor updated the delegation on the status of the Office’s ongoing subject-matter assessment, which is aimed at reaching a determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that the alleged conduct falls within the jurisdiction of the Court.
The Attorney General and Ombudsperson elaborated on the judicial system in Venezuela and the work of their respective offices and assured their willingness to cooperate in the framework of the Rome Statute with the work of the Prosecutor’s Office. To this end, the Venezuelan Attorney General invited Prosecutor Bensouda to visit Venezuela.
The Prosecutor reiterated that both situations (Venezuela I and II) remain under preliminary examination with a view to take a decision, upon completion, whether to open an investigation. Additional details, including on the Office’s findings will be available in the upcoming end of the year Report on Preliminary Examination Activities (2020).
The Office looks forward to the continued engagement with the Government of Venezuela and other relevant stakeholders in relation to the situations of Venezuela I and Venezuela II.