Spanish— The interim government of Juan Guaidó has put forth a strategy before the International Criminal Court (ICC) that could obstruct the initiation of a trial against Maduro. By blunder or by accord, the interim government is considering invoking the principle of complementarity, which delays the process since it does nothing but involve the justice system in the service of the Chavista regime. This is evident in a conversation between advisors of the complaint, exclusively accessed by the PanAm Post.
“We are persuaded well on that gamble. Fortunately, we have cut the line between third and SS -short stop- and if everything goes in tune with the new prosecutor of the Court, Karim Khan, from the UK, we will execute a good double game: decree the complementarity in the Court and move on to the formal investigation phase.” This is what the Ambassador of the Interim Government in Canada, Orlando Viera-Blanco, reportedly told Gerson Revanales, a career diplomat, who is an advisor to the Foreign Policy Commission of the opposition-controlled National Assembly and the complaint before the ICC.
Coordination with the new prosecutor
Additionally, the clip alludes to advanced coordination with the new prosecutor when we hear that “the new team of the Court are not fools and know that they are trying to hide the state of the matter with concessional particles in an immense universe of impunity.” And the clip also mentions, ” at the end of the day, these bullfighters of the regime do not know how to change their capes and are left exposed.”
In the audio accessed by the PanAm Post, Gerson Revanales can be heard making this statement quoting Viera-Blanco. Revanales, a career ambassador who currently heads the firm Diplomatic Solution Consulting Group, talks to Ramón Rondón, who is also part of the team pushing for Maduro’s trial, about what he reportedly discussed with the ambassador to Canada regarding the strategy of the interim government given the change of prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. On Tuesday, June 15, Fatou Bensouda‘s term ends and the British prosecutor, Karim Khan, takes over.
Bensouda’s administration has come under fire for her inaction in the case that rests in her office against Nicolás Maduro for crimes against humanity. However, a few days before handing over her office, she raised hopes by stating in an interview with France24 that the Venezuelan case meets “most of the criteria for the opening of a preliminary investigation” and that “significant” progress has been made in this regard.
Principle of complementarity could push the case behind
But the delay could now come from Caracas. In the audio, the indignation of Revanales and Rondón in the face of the ill-advised strategy of Guaidó’s representatives is evident. “If they decree complementarity, we are screwed because the Court is going to say that its action is complementary and the first thing is that we have to resolve the situation inside Venezuela,” Rondón expresses. In response, Revanales replies, “you are handing it over to Tarek (William Saab -the regime’s attorney general-).
Indeed, the principle of complementarity contemplated in the Rome Statute establishes that “international justice does not displace national justice but complements it.” The National Autonomous University of Mexico explains that within the new international criminal jurisdiction, this principle can be considered as “a space of convergence and conciliation between the concept of sovereignty on the one hand and the concept of operation and safeguarding of an international legal order.”
In this scenario, an eventual trial against Maduro to the next phase at the Hague Tribunal would not only be obstructed but the court would go backwards to the search for that “convergence and conciliation” with the national justice system, which in this case is in the hands of the Chavista regime under the Attorney General’s Office usurped by Tarek William Saab.
Blunder or accord?
The question then arises as to whether this is a blunder on the part of Guaidó’s representatives out of ignorance of international law or a pact with the regime of Nicolás Maduro to deliberately hinder the process as part of the negotiation proposed in the framework of the so-called “national salvation agreement.”
The Venezuelan case in the Hague is unprecedented. The ICC had received multiple complaints from opposition leaders and human rights organizations against Chavismo – initially led by Hugo Chávez and now by Nicolás Maduro. However, in September 2018, for the first time in the history of the court which was created in 2002, States Parties to the Rome Statute requested to open proceedings against another member state. Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Canada requested the ICC prosecutor’s office to investigate alleged crimes against humanity and human rights abuses committed in Venezuela since April 12, 2014, under the regime of Nicolás Maduro.
Therefore, the statement by Ambassador Orlando Viera-Blanco referred to in the audio by former diplomat Gerson Revanales is of great importance. The intervention in the conversation of a woman whose name has not been identified, but who clarifies some details related to the adhesion of these countries to the denunciation is also worth noting. For example, she says that Argentina – which had requested the proceedings under the government of Mauricio Macri- will now withdraw under Alberto Fernández and Cristina Kirchner’s government. On the other hand, Canada and Colombia will remain as complainants, according to what has been discussed.
It is worth mentioning that this conversation took place days before Argentina withdrew its support to the joint lawsuit, after leaving the Lima Group at the end of May. “Argentina withdrew from a lawsuit promoted by the Lima Group as a consequence of leaving the Lima Group,” the Argentine Foreign Minister informed CNN at the time.
Hopes rise as the ICC enters a new term
In the coming hours, the outgoing prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is expected to present to her successor, Karim Khan, a report with the conclusions of her office so that the British prosecutor can continue the process of a possible trial against Maduro. The delayed investigation in the Venezuela case is not the only criticism of her term, during which she also received in her office the president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the regime, Maikel Moreno, who is sanctioned by the United States. Furthermore, she was also the object of a severe sanction by Washington for the investigation of US soldiers for possible war crimes in Afghanistan. With Karim Khan, a new chapter begins this Tuesday with high expectations.