Venezuela has asked the International Criminal Court to defer to authorities in the Latin American nation its investigation into allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings committed by security forces under President Nicolás Maduro's rule.
If judges accept the request, it would effectively halt the global court's first probe into crimes in a Latin American country and allow law enforcement there to investigate. However, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan indicated Thursday he wants to press ahead with the investigation he announced in November and said he will soon ask judges to approve a continuation of his probe.
Khan said Venezuelan authorities had not provided any fresh reasoning to back up their request to take over the investigation.
In 2019, a Human Rights Report said, “In the midst of an economic and humanitarian crisis that is hitting the poor the hardest, Venezuelan authorities are resorting to egregious abuses in low-income communities that no longer support the Maduro regime,” according to José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch said government crackdowns in Venezuela saw thousands of arbitrary arrests, prosecutions of hundreds of civilians in military courts, torture and abuses of detainees, extrajudicial killings along with short-term enforced disappearances.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 5.4 million Venezuelans, which is about 20 percent of the country's population, have fled in recent years. Of that amount, 323,000 Venezuelans will qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States, according to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service.