The Venezuelan NGO Control Ciudadano affirmed that it is important to determine the responsibility of superiors, both civil and military, in the face of crimes and human rights violations provided for by the Rome Statute.
This is clear from the report entitled “Venezuela before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Implications for the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) ”, prepared by the Social Watch investigation and analysis team, according to a statement from the organization.
In it, they affirm that “the superiors responsible for crimes against human rights in Venezuela will be under the observation of the ICC if the opening of an investigation against Venezuela”.
In February 2018, the ICC opened a preliminary examination of Venezuela for alleged abuses of its security forces, both in the demonstrations that took place since April 2017 and in some prisons where opponents had been mistreated.
Former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced in November last year that there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela.
Bensouda left his position as a prosecutor at the ICC on June 15 of this year and in his last report indicated that there is “a reasonable basis” to believe that “crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed in the Caribbean nation at least since 2017 ″.
The case continues in the hands of the now prosecutor Karim Khan, who plans to start a visit to Venezuela today.
Regarding the internal legal framework in military matters, Social Watch concludes that “it does not include the necessary elements to judge ‘duly’ superiors or those who could be involved in the commission of international crimes”.
Therefore, they foresee “that it will not be easy for the Venezuelan State and the highest military and civil officials to get away from the observation made by the ICC or from the eventual initiation of an investigation.”
In this regard, the president of the organization, Rocío San Miguel, considered that “the report is important for the FANB, as it reminds military personnel of the relationship between superiors and subordinates in the chain of command”, as well as “the responsibilities of superiors for the case of not preventing crimes before they occur ”.
And even the responsibility “not to punish subordinates for committing the crimes after they have occurred.”
“These responsibilities are not being observed, in a systematic way, within the National Armed Forces, in the face of atrocious crimes,” he said.
Finally, Social Watch reminds the military “that the responsibility of the superior still remains in the event of a new change of command.”
“In those cases, that new superior will also be responsible for such crimes if he does not carry out the corresponding investigations and hand over those responsible to justice,” he concludes.