ICC prosecutor rejects Venezuela delay request, will seek investigation

International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan poses during an interview with Reuters at the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Levaux

THE HAGUE, April 21 (Reuters) - International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan has rejected a request by Venezuela to delay an ICC probe into alleged human rights violations, according to documents released on Thursday, and he will seek to reopen a full investigation.

Caracas had sought the delay in order to show that authorities there were ready and able to conduct their own investigation into alleged crimes committed since 2017 under the rule of President Nicholas Maduro.

In 2020 Khan's office found in a preliminary examination that there was a "reasonable basis" to believe that "since at least April 2017, civilian authorities, members of the armed forces and pro-government individuals have committed the crimes against humanity". read more

Under ICC rules, member states themselves have the duty and first right to prosecute alleged atrocities on their own soil.

But Khan's filing said Venezuela had not demonstrated that local accountability efforts were sufficient and he would seek an ICC-led investigation.

"Accordingly and as soon as possible, the prosecution will request the chamber to authorize resumption of its investigation," the prosecutor wrote in the document.

In March the prosecutor visited Venezuela and announced he would open an office there. Authorities in Caracas have said an ICC investigation would be unwarranted but still agreed to cooperate with the court. read more

Khan noted that he would support efforts by the Venezuelan authorities to conduct investigations into some alleged crimes.

Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alison Williams

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