ICC Prosecutor Opens Office in Caracas Following Venezuela Visit


Today I have concluded my fourth official visit to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (22-24 April 2024). I believe this mission has significantly strengthened the basis on which we may seize a real opportunity to deliver meaningful justice under the Rome Statute.

Through our dialogue with Venezuelan authorities, drawing on our engagement with local communities in Caracas, and building on the existing framework of Memoranda of Understanding concluded during my previous visits, I was able to welcome the following key steps forward together with His Excellency President Nicolás Maduro Moros at the conclusion of my visit:

  • (i) A clear commitment from the Government of Venezuela to incorporate the Rome Statute in the national legal framework of Venezuela;
  • (ii) An agreement for the return of a technical team of my Office to Caracas within three weeks from today to agree on a set of new positive complementarity initiatives that can set a tangible platform for action in relation to allegations of Rome Statute crimes;
  • (iii) A clear commitment from His Excellency President Maduro, at my request, to invite the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to return to Venezuela. As I noted in my joint press conference with His Excellency the President, this will represent an important contribution alongside the ongoing implementation of the Memoranda of Understanding and Joint Work Plan agreed upon between my Office and the Government of Venezuela.

During this visit, I was also delighted to inaugurate a new in-country office of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) in Caracas, focused on complementarity activities and engagement with the national authorities. The opening of this office is a concrete reflection of my commitment to bring renewed life to the principle of complementarity at the heart of the Rome Statute.


On the first day of my visit, I also had the honour to address the National Assembly of Venezuela, in the presence of his Excellency Jorge Rodriguez, President of the Assembly, and other senior state officials. In formally launching the Joint Work Plan on technical assistance activities agreed upon with the Government of Venezuela last December, I was clear in my message to all national partners: The Rome Statute belongs to Venezuela as much as to any other State Party, and we stand ready to support the necessary work in meeting their obligations under the Statute. But by that same token, the people of Venezuela, all individuals in Venezuela, are as equally deserving of the protection that the Rome Statute provides as any other person globally. Justice is the right of all.

In my address to the National Assembly, and in my meetings with His Excellency the President and Her Excellency the Vice President, Ms Delcy Rodriguez, I again underlined my commitment to the two tracks at the core of the complementarity approach of my Office, through which we seek to vindicate that right to justice. On the one hand, we will spare no effort, where there is genuine will from Venezuela, to find ways in which we can deepen our cooperation with national authorities in order to strengthen domestic accountability initiatives. Simultaneously, and without delay, we will continue to pursue our independent investigations in the Venezuela situation, notably following the confirmation by the Appeals Chamber, on 1 March 2024, of the Pre-Trial Chamber decision authorising the resumption of the OTP investigation.

On 23 April, in the context of my Office's work in the Venezuela II situation currently under preliminary examination following a referral from the Government of Venezuela, I visited Petare and La Vega districts of Caracas, together with representatives of the Government and the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Venezuela, Mr Gianluca Rampolla del Tindaro. I was deeply impacted by the solidarity and mutual support demonstrated by local communities to address economic and social challenges. I was humbled to share a session with the civil society organisation (CSO) Tinta Violeta which highlighted the collective action of women and men to address challenges of gender-based crimes including domestic abuse.

In advance of my visit to Caracas, my Office also held virtual meetings with Venezuelan civil society organisations in order to provide advance notice and context to my visit, and to continue the ongoing strong dialogue we have in place. The Office will be holding further engagements with relevant CSOs upon my return to the Hague.
I wish to again express my thanks to the Venezuelan authorities who facilitated and supported my visit. In the immediate follow up, my Office will accelerate its work to support genuine and meaningful efforts by Venezuela to ensure accountability for international crimes, while pursuing our independent mandated activities. We owe it to those who have suffered and who are still seeking vindication of their right to justice.


The cooperation between the OTP and Venezuela's government is governed by two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed on 3 November 2021 and 10 June 2023 during previous visits of Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC to Venezuela. The 2023 MoU envisaged the establishment of the office in Caracas. In December 2023, the OTP and Venezuela signed a Joint Work Plan setting out the specific activities for 2024 with a view to implementing the priorities listed in the MoU, including provision of support on legislative amendments, delivery of training to national authorities, and the development of mechanisms for enhanced positive complementarity.

Venezuela ratified the Rome Statute on 7 June 2000. In February 2018, the OTP opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Venezuela. On 27 September 2018, the Office received a referral from a group of States Parties to the Rome Statute requesting the initiation of an investigation for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Venezuela since 12 February 2014. On 3 November 2021, the Prosecutor announced the conclusion of the preliminary examination and opening of the investigation (Venezuela I).

On 15 April 2022, the government of Venezuela requested the OTP to defer its investigation in favour of actions carried out by the national authorities of Venezuela. On 1 November 2022, the Prosecutor filed an application before Pre-Trial Chamber I seeking authorisation to resume the investigation in the situation. On 27 June 2023, Pre-Trial Chamber I authorised the OTP to resume its investigation in the situation in Venezuela I. On 1 March 2024, the Appeals Chamber rejected the appeal of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela against Pre-Trial Chamber I's decision of 27 June 2023 and confirmed the resumption of the investigation.

Another situation in Venezuela (Venezuela II) is currently under preliminary examination, following a referral from the government of Venezuela received by the OTP on 13 February 2020.

More Information

ICC Prosecutor, Mr Karim A.A. Khan QC, opens an investigation into the Situation in Venezuela and concludes Memorandum of Understanding with the Government (5 November 2021)

Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan QC, on completion of second visit to Venezuela: "Through cooperation we will accelerate our common work towards justice." (31 March 2022)

ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC concludes official visit to Venezuela, signing MoU on establishment of in-country office (13 June 2023)

Situation in Venezuela: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I authorizes the resumption of the investigation (27 June 2023)

For more on the situation in Venezuela I see here, and on Venezuela II see here. For further details on "preliminary examinations" and "situations and cases" before the Court, click here, and here.

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