Relatives of political prisoners carry signs with pictures of them calling the attention of the Prosecutor of the ICC
Venezuela Envoy Elliott Abrams: Maduro Supporters Who Violate Human Rights 'Not Welcome' In U.S. Photo by Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images

A full investigation on the government of Venezuela has been decided by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday over alleged crimes against humanity. The announcement came after Venezualan President Nicolas Maduro signed a memorandum to cooperate with the said probe led by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan.

Maduro made clear that he respects the decision as a state, however he does not entirely agree with it. "We have signed an agreement that does guarantee, in an effective way, cooperation, positive complementarity, mutual support, constructive dialogue to seek truth and justice."

Having signed the memorandum, the Venezuelan government still objects to the decision saying the events in the country does not justify being placed under a full blown investigation after having gone through its preliminary examinations phase.

According to Human Rights Watch, this development now paves the way for justice in the wake of numerous victims of atrocities during Maduro's rule. As part of ICC’s member states, the country has undergone preliminary examinations since February 2018 after six ICC member countries had jointly asked the prosecutor to look into the alleged crimes.

While the prosecutor has not yet defined the scope and outline of the investigation, this has been deemed to be a cause to celebrate for countries who have long been opposed to Maduro’s rule. The investigation will be centered on the government’s actions during the crackdown on anti government protests in 2017 that have been marred by allegations of excessive force, arbitrary detention as well as torture by governement security forces.

The abuses were reportedly aimed at punishing people for their opposing political views rather than an intent to disperse protests and enforce law. Between 2016 and 2018, around 18,000 people were reportedly killed in Venezuela for resisting authority. The office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has concluded that many of these killings could constitute extrajudicial executions.

The US has also accused Maduro and his officials of corruption as well as accepting bribes leading to its economic unilateral government sanctions on Venezuela. A separate preliminary examination on this was opened in February 2020 and still ongoing.

This is the first time a Latin American country is facing such scrutiny for crimes against humanity while millions of Venezualans continue to flee the country due to food shortages and hyperinflation.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference with international media correspondents at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, on August 16, 2021. - Maduro announced that he will propose the "opening of direct dialogue" with the United States government, after breaking relations two years ago, within the negotiation process that he maintains with the Venezuelan opposition in Mexico. Photo by Federico Parra/AFP via Getty Images

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