Today, I completed my second official visit to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, during which significant steps have been taken to deepen cooperation and accelerate our independent work in relation to the Situation in Venezuela following my decision to open an investigation in November 2021.
I express my gratitude to the authorities of Venezuela for their official invitation and for their cooperative consultations with my delegation. I am grateful in particular for the continued engagement of the President of the Republic, H.E. Mr Nicolás Maduro Moros with who I held straightforward and productive discussions.
The Government of Venezuela remains of the view that the conditions for an investigation have not been met. I therefore continue to consider it to their great credit that they have committed to strengthen cooperation with my Office in order that we can get to the truth.
This collaborative approach has led to concrete progress during my visit in implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between my Office and the Government of Venezuela, signed during my last visit to Caracas in November 2021 (“MOU”). This includes authorisation for the Office of the Prosecutor to establish an office in Caracas in support of cooperation with Venezuelan authorities and facilitation of technical assistance under the framework of the MOU.
I also welcome the tangible steps that we have taken which will allow my Office to strengthen its work with respect to the Situation in Venezuela, including agreement on regular and structured technical-level engagements between my Office and Venezuelan State officials; the issuance by the Government of Venezuela of multiple entry visas to nominated members of my Office; and the nomination of legal and operational focal points to facilitate effective responses to requests for international cooperation and judicial assistance pursuant to the exercise of my independent mandate.
In November, I noted that the opening of an investigation is not a one-way street, it should also be a basis for deepening engagement and strengthening partnerships. In this regard, I believe we have reached a significant agreement with the Government of Venezuela to work together with international partners, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on appropriate measures to facilitate implementation of the commitments set out in MoU.
This will include the provision of technical assistance and knowledge transfer to domestic authorities in Venezuela to support the effective investigation and prosecution at the national level of alleged crimes, and the provision of training and expert advice in order to strengthen implementation of relevant domestic legislation. Assistance will also be provided to Venezuelan authorities in identifying additional areas in which institutional or legislative frameworks may be enhanced in order to strengthen the ability of competent domestic authorities to ensure the effective administration of justice.
Contingent on the progress made in implementation of the MOU, we have also agreed that my Office and the Government of Venezuela will work towards the organisation of meetings and conferences on international criminal justice in Caracas in 2023 aimed at promoting the exchange of experiences and best practices among States of the region.
Since I took office as Prosecutor in nine months ago, I have underlined my commitment to give life to the principle of complementarity that lies at the heart of the Rome Statute. I am convinced that efforts to deepen cooperation and build common ground across all actors, whether national authorities, survivor groups, civil society or international organisations, can only serve to strengthen the basis on which effective investigations may be conducted, allowing us to collectively forge a path towards justice.
This of course includes ensuring full respect for the right of national authorities to exercise their jurisdiction to deliver accountability in a manner consistent with national law and the principles of the Rome Statute.
As my Office moves forward with its work in relation to the Situation in Venezuela, we will continue to seek all opportunities to strengthen the partnerships with all actors pursuant to the values and principles of the Rome Statute.