Venezuela’s ‘political crimes’ alleged by human rights group to be examined by the ICC

The international criminal court said on Friday it is studying accusations by a South American human rights group that security forces in Venezuela have committed crimes against humanity.

The group also said in a complaint filed with the ICC on Thursday that it had information about the increased use of rape, torture and murder of civilians in the Maduro government’s anti-protest crackdown.

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“The ICC is analysing the case,” said ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah in a statement. “It will analyse the contents of the complaint in order to determine the next steps to be taken.”

The charges by Venceremos, a non-profit civil rights organisation based in Caracas, are the latest to emerge from the turmoil that has enveloped Venezuela. Venceremos said its allegations correspond with the Rome statute on the ICC, which sets up international criminal courts.

Venezuela has seen nearly 30 people killed in the last few weeks during anti-government protests. President Nicolás Maduro’s government says the violence is the result of “rightwing terrorists” seeking to destabilise his government.

Maduro recently cracked down on protesters with a slew of arrests, including journalists.

Venezuela’s attorney general, Tarek William Saab, has also accused neighbouring Colombia of aiding “criminal” rightwing groups operating in Venezuela. His statements have further fueled fears that Latin America’s long-divided left could be falling into alignment against the ruling socialist party.

Saab has earlier dismissed the allegations of rights abuses as part of an “attempted destabilisation” by the opposition, the US and other allies who oppose Maduro.

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