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Argentina launches probe into potential crimes against humanity in Venezuela

A probe into potential crimes against humanity in Venezuela has been initiated by a prosecutor in Argentina, following a criminal complaint lodged by the Clooney Foundation for Justice.

A prosecutor in Argentina has launched an investigation into potential crimes against humanity in Venezuela following a criminal complaint filed by the Clooney Foundation for Justice.

Federal prosecutor Carlos Stornelli noted that the complaint pointed to the responsibility of several high-ranking members of the Venezuelan National Guard in human rights abuses during 2014 street protests against the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

The move by the foundation set up by actor George Clooney and his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, marks the latest effort to use Argentina's legal system and the principle of universal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes against humanity committed elsewhere.

The foundation chose Argentina to file its complaint because the country’s justice system has already applied the principle of universal jurisdiction to investigate alleged crimes against humanity committed in Spain and Myanmar.

The Clooney Foundation for Justice represents the families of two Venezuelans killed during the 2014 protests in which dozens of people died.


"These two cases illustrate a much broader concern that the foundation has over serious systematic human rights violations where there is a chain of command," Ignacio Jovtis, senior program managed at the Clooney Foundation for Justice, said at the time the complaint was filed.

The Foundation alleges that the similarities in the way the two victims were killed demonstrate that the violence against protests were part of "a systematic plan" that included "the absolute absence of procedures" in the leadership of the Venezuelan National Guard to "investigate the facts and punish those responsible," Stornelli wrote in his writ, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

In his writ, Stornelli requested a series of measures that must be previously approved by a federal judge. These measures include issuing requests to the Venezuelan justice system to send copies of judicial proceedings and to the hospitals where the victims were treated in order to access medical records, a list of professionals who treated them and death certificates.

He also called for documents to be requested from the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the International Criminal Court.

A United Nations fact-finding mission to Venezuela concluded in 2022 crimes against humanity were carried out in Venezuela. The issue is also being investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

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