The Clooney Foundation for Justice has filed a complaint with a federal court in Argentina asking to investigate alleged human rights violations committed in Venezuela, the organisation announced in a statement Wednesday.
"The evidence presented by CFJ [Clooney Foundation] points to the potential criminal liability of Venezuelan security forces in committing crimes against humanity against victims linked or perceived to be linked to the government’s political opposition," the statement reads.
The complaint, filed on Tuesday, appeals to the principle of universal justice, which allows crimes against humanity to be prosecuted in courtrooms in other countries, regardless of where they were committed. It comes after
It addresses “potential criminal liability of Venezuelan security forces in committing crimes against humanity against victims linked or perceived to be linked to the government’s political opposition,” said the foundation, which said it was representing two families with relatives who were targeted by the authorities and subjected to “indiscriminate violence and killings.”
"The Venezuelan justice system is failing victims of mass atrocities in their fight for justice," said Yasmine Chubin, director of legal counsel for the foundation's The Docket initiative, which deals with cases like Venezuela.
"This is why we are assisting survivors and their families in gathering evidence of the crimes committed against them and seeking alternative jurisdictions to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable," Chubin added.
The organisation did not specify before which court in Argentina it formalised the filing. The action was supported by Amnesty International.
"The Argentine justice system has an obligation to investigate these crimes and, if sufficient and admissible evidence is found, to charge and bring to justice the alleged perpetrators. The titanic efforts of the victims to obtain truth, justice and reparation, in the face of the impunity prevailing in Venezuela, with the invaluable support of organisations such as the Clooney Foundation for Justice, must not fall on deaf ears,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
“Argentina’s federal courts cannot turn their back on victims; on the contrary, they must open the door to universal jurisdiction and set an important precedent for other countries in the region to follow the same course of action,” she added.
“This lawsuit is a response to the policy of repression designed and implemented by the government of Nicolás Maduro since 2014,” said Guevara-Rosas, citing allegations of “extrajudicial executions, torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, excessive use of force and politically motivated persecution.”
In 2021, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in Venezuela dating back to 2017, the year of massive opposition demonstrations whose repression by military and police forces left more than a hundred people dead.
The complaint filed on Tuesday with the local justice system is based on precedents from other cases already accepted under the principle of universal justice, such as the investigation of ex-dictator Francisco Franco's crimes in Spain and more recently alleged war crimes carried out by Myanmar's military leaders.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice provides free legal support to victims of abuses of power. It was founded by actor George Clooney and his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.