Venezuela files complaint in International Criminal Court against US sanctions

Venezuela’s foreign minister Jorge Arreaza termed the US sanctions as an act amounting to crimes against humanity

February 14, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Venezuela filed complaint in International Criminal Court against US sanctions
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza declares after introducing the complaint to the ICC for unilateral coercive measures by the United States against Venezuela. (Photo: EmbaVEIrak/ Twitter)

The Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro has moved the International Criminal Court (ICC) on February 13, Thursday, against sanctions imposed by the United States (US) administration of Donald Trump. Venezuela has argued that these sanctions have caused significant suffering for millions of people in the Latin American country. 

Speaking at the Hague, Venezuela’s foreign minister Jorge Arreaza called the US sanctions  as “unilateral measures” amounting to crimes against humanity. He added that Venezuela is seeking remedies against these crimes under international laws.

The move comes a week after fresh sanctions were imposed by the US on the Venezuelan state-run airline CONVIASA. The Trump administration has also supported the coup attempts by opposition leader Juan Guiado against democratically elected government of Maduro, and has targeted Venezuelan leaders, state officials and public sector companies in several rounds of sanctions since the re-election of Maduro in 2018.

Due to these sanctions, Venezuelan state companies such as the PDVSA have not been able to export oil and gas freely in the international market, which is the main source of revenue for the country and crucial for maintaining several welfare programs for the poor.

Apart from causing economic hardships including food shortages for the country’s population, these sanctions have also put around 300,000 people at risk who require urgent medical treatment on a regular basis. A large number of these people are suffering from HIV infection and cancer. Some of them are also suffering due to the lack of dialysis machines.

The ICC is an inter-governmental tribunal which was founded in 2002 at the Hague in the Netherlands. It does not deal with bilateral issues and its jurisdiction is related to violations of international human rights, genocides, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Though the US is not part of the ICC, Venezuela can still ask for an investigation against it. However, given the dominance of the western discourse in such international bodies, it is very unlikely that the ICC will take any decisive step against the US. In 2018, the Lima group, a group of conservative governments in Latin America, had gone to the ICC and asked it to investigate Venezuela’s alleged crimes against humanity.