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OAS to Study Possible Crimes Against Humanity in Venezuela

  • VOA News

FILE - Delegates' seats are prepared for the Organization of American States' (OAS) meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Venezuela, in Washington, May 31, 2017.

As Venezuelans prepared for a two-day national strike beginning Wednesday, the head of the Organization of American States met Tuesday with a former International Criminal Court prosecutor about the prospect of bringing charges against Venezuelan authorities for humanitarian crimes.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said at a press conference Tuesday that Argentine lawyer Luis Moreno-Ocampo will help the OAS examine whether Venezuelan authorities have committed crimes against humanity that warrant an investigation by the ICC.

"What we are going to basically do is, starting in September, the secretary general told me it would be good to do it in two months, hold a series of public hearings in the OAS to listen to the victims, to the experts, to Venezuela, those with different opinions, and in that way the OAS can have a vision of what is happening in terms of individual responsibility, and whether or not the International Criminal Court needs to open a case against Venezuela," Moreno-Ocampo said.

The hearings, said Moreno-Ocampo, will hear both victims of alleged crimes against humanity and members of the Venezuelan government, as long as it decides to participate.

A demonstrator holds up a Venezuelan national flag with a message that reads in Spanish; "OAS, don't leave us alone in this fight," in Caracas, Venezuela, June 21, 2017.
A demonstrator holds up a Venezuelan national flag with a message that reads in Spanish; "OAS, don't leave us alone in this fight," in Caracas, Venezuela, June 21, 2017.

As such, the OAS does not have the authority to send a case to the ICC, Moreno-Ocampo said. But, if Venezuela is found to have committed such crime, one of the 28 OAS-member countries could elevate the case to the International Criminal Court.

Moreno-Ocampo was the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. He conducted investigations in seven different countries, presenting charges against Moammar Gadhafi for crimes against humanity committed in Libya, the president of the Sudan Omar al-Bashir for genocide in Darfur, the former President of Ivory Coast Laurent Gbagbo, Joseph Kony and the former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Jean Pierre Bemba.

Before arriving at the international body, Moreno-Ocampo played a crucial role during the transition to democracy in Argentina, as the deputy prosecutor in the "Junta trial" in 1985 and the prosecutor in the trial against a military rebellion in 1991.

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