On Tuesday, the head prosecutor of the International Criminal Court asked to revive his probe into claims of arbitrary killings and torture carried out by Venezuelan security forces while President Nicolás Maduro was in power.
Just over six months after Venezuela urged the court to postpone its investigation to authorities in the Latin American country, prosecutor Karim Khan requested permission to resume the investigation.
When nations are unable or unwilling to investigate alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious offences, the ICC acts as a court of last resort.
This system is known as complementarity.
Khan nevertheless stated on Tuesday that "I have judged that the Venezuelan request for a deferral is, at this stage, not warranted, and that the probe should be granted to begin."
The Venezuelan government has instituted legal reforms, he admitted, but they "remain either insufficient in scope or have not yet had any real influence on potentially relevant actions," he added.
Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru, six of the court's members, requested an investigation into alleged offences in early 2014.
After conducting an initial investigation, Fatou Bensouda, Khan's predecessor, declared in 2020 that she had discovered sufficient evidence to draw the conclusion that crimes against humanity had been committed in Venezuela as least as early as April 2017.
Khan then launched his inquiry in November of last year, the first by the court in Latin America, declaring that he and his team would "perform our work freely and devoid of any political purpose."
Khan praised Maduro's administration "for its constructive engagement" with the court and stated that the judges will now determine whether or not to grant Venezuela's request for a deferral as well as his motion to resume his inquiry.
Regardless of the result, he continued, "I am dedicated to communication and engagement to explore ways we can work together to secure justice for victims in Venezuela."