ONLINE EVENT: Crimes Against Humanity on Trial – The ICC in Venezuela and Colombia


This post is also available in: Spanish

Two recent decisions by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on cases in Venezuela and Colombia will have distinct consequences in each country.

On November 3, the ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan announced that he will open an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Venezuela. This follows the conclusion of a preliminary examination conducted by the Court since 2018. The probe will focus on allegations of arbitrary detentions, use of torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as persecution committed by Venezuelan security forces under President Maduro, which the government has denied. The case in Venezuela is the first time the ICC has initiated an investigation phase in Latin America.

In contrast, on October 28 in Colombia, Karim Khan closed the preliminary examination into crimes against humanity in the country that had been in place since 2004, declining to open an investigation. The prosecutor cited Colombia’s fulfillment of its international obligations through the justice system created by the Peace Accords to end the armed conflict as its justification.

How does the decision to open an investigation into crimes against humanity affect the Maduro regime in the short and long-term? What are the implications of closing the ICC case in Colombia? How are the victims in Colombia and Venezuela impacted by the decisions? And what do these decisions demonstrate about the current state of the rule of law and access to justice in both countries?   

Follow the event on Twitter at #ICCVenezuela and @The_Dialogue.

We invite participants to submit questions using the Q&A function in Zoom or to email questions to

Please note that this conversation will be held in Spanish. Simultaneous interpretation will be available in English for those who join the event through the RSVP.

Opening Remarks: 

Michael Shifter

President, Inter-American Dialogue (@MichaelShifter)


Almudena Bernabeu

Director, Guernica Centre for International Justice (@almubernabeu)

Alfredo Romero

Executive Director, Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV) (@alfredoromero)

Silvia Serrano-Guzmán

Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University (@silviajserranog)

José Miguel Vivanco

Executive Director, Americas Division, Human Rights Watch (@JMVivancoHRW)


Santiago Canton

Director, Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program, Inter-American Dialogue (@SantiagoACanton)

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