Argentine Court Reopens Case Against Venezuela for Crimes Against Humanity

What You Need to Know:

An Argentine court announced on Friday its intent to reopen a case of crimes against humanity against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and Disodado Cabello, Deputy of Venezuela’s National Assembly. The accusation pertains to a bout of anti-government protests which occurred in Venezuela in February 2014, where the aforementioned men authorized security forces to respond to the protests with violence. 

In June 2023, a complaint was filed with the Argentine judicial system by the Clooney Foundation, run by George and Amal Clooney, to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity in Venezuela under the principle of ‘universal jurisdiction.’ 

Universal jurisdiction enables a national court to prosecute individuals, regardless of their nationality nor where the crime was committed, for serious crimes such as torture, genocide, and crimes against humanity. 

The Foundation’s website states, “In June 2023, we filed a complaint before the Argentine federal justice system, urging Argentina to investigate the systematic and grave human rights violations committed in Venezuela… Just one month later, in July 2023, the Argentine federal prosecutor opened the investigation based on The Docket’s findings. The Docket’s work points to the potential criminal liability of Venezuelan security forces in committing crimes against humanity against victims linked or perceived to be linked to the government’s political opposition. The Docket team is representing family members of victims of indiscriminate violence and killings in Venezuela. The complaint relied on over 15,000 pages of evidence of the crimes against humanity that have been committed in Venezuela.” 

‘The Docket’ refers to the Clooney Foundation’s Docket Initiative, which utilizes legal experts to push for prosecutions of those who commit mass atrocities. 

The Details:

According to the Buenos Aires Times, the case was initially shelved by Argentine prosecutors due to the fact that the International Criminal Court (ICC) had been investigating claims against Maduro and his associates since 2018. 

The victims however, which court documents claim “[suffered] the persecution and murder of their relatives, in a context that is public and has repercussions beyond territorial borders,” appealed the decision not to prosecute in Argentina. On Friday, judges Pablo Bertuzzi and Leopoldo Bruglia claimed “it is necessary to revoke the decision [to close the case].”

So, What Now?:

In recent months, Argentina has been instrumental in pushing back against democratic backsliding in Venezuela. Last Thursday, an unnamed government official spoke to the Buenos Aires Times and affirmed that the Venezuelan government would in fact grant six members of Venezuelan opposition candidate María Corina Machado’s team safe passage into Argentina. 

In March, the six members of Machado’s team, including Megalli Meda, Claudia Macero, and Pedro Urruchurtu, sought refuge in the Argentine embassy in Caracas following the announcement of arrest warrants for their alleged involvement in a plot to ‘destabilize the Maduro government.’ 

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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