BFF-02 Experts urge probe of possible Venezuela ‘crimes against humanity’

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Experts urge probe of possible Venezuela ‘crimes against humanity’

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – A panel of independent international experts has found “reasonable grounds” to refer Venezuela to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, the Organization of American States said Tuesday.

In a report, the experts identified more than 8,292 “extrajudicial executions” since 2015, “often a result of various security forces conducting unlawful and violent home raids where false confrontations are staged to rationalize the summary executions of, commonly, young men.”

The document identifies 11 men, including President Nicolas Maduro and Vice President Tareck El Aissami, as the masterminds of the repression.

“Maduro could wind up in jail” said one of the authors, legal scholar Santiago Canton of Argentina.

The experts’ recommendations include opening an investigation into possible crimes against humanity and submitting their report to the International Criminal Court.

The panel “considers that there are reasonable grounds… for considering that acts to which the civilian population of Venezuela was subjected to dating back to at least February 12, 2014, constitute crimes against humanity,” the report said.

The 400-page report also found 131 people were killed during the protests against Maduro since 2014.

“The tactics used demonstrate a clear pattern of the intent to kill, demonstrated by the location of the death blow (vital areas of the body, in particular, shots to the head and neck), the use of modified and live munitions, and the close range in which these acts were perpetrated,” it noted.

In addition, the report said more than 12,000 Venezuelans have been arbitrarily detained since the 2013 presidential election, when Maduro was elected as president to succeed Hugo Chavez.

And more than 1,300 people have been held as political prisoners during that same period.

OAS chief Luis Almagro, who is from Uruguay and mandated the panel, is an open critic of Maduro, and refers to Venezuela as a “dictatorship.”

Maduro won 68 percent of the vote in Venezuela’s May election that was boycotted by the opposition and condemned as illegitimate by much of the international community.

“The regime moved forward with the fraudulent elections, continues to act with impunity and the people of Venezuela endure increasing intimidation, fear, repression and assault,” the report added.

“The severity of the tactics only increases. These tactics and methods are to instill fear and intimidate with torture used as punishment.”

A statement from Venezuela’s OAS mission called the report a “grotesque media farce,” and cast doubt on whether Almagro has the authority to order such a document and research.

BSS/AFP/AU/07:25 hrs