University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review


State parties to the Rome Statute submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This permanent and autonomous Court tries individuals for heinous international crimes, including crimes against humanity (CAH). Crimes such as murder, imprisonment, or torture, when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population, with knowledge of the attack, are known as CAH. Under the Statute, national jurisdictions are primarily responsible for investigating and prosecuting those responsible for international crimes. So, before it can assert jurisdiction, the ICC must determine that a state party is unwilling or unable to prosecute crimes against humanity in an effective way.

Allegations of CAH in Venezuela, a state party to the Statute, have circulated in the news and social media since 2002. But in 2017, the widespread and systematic murder, imprisonment, and torture, allegedly committed by Venezuelan security forces and colectivos (armed government groups), caught the international community’s attention. This Article argues that those crimes are CAH, and that the Venezuelan judiciary is unwilling and unable to genuinely prosecute the potential defendants. Accordingly, the ICC must assert jurisdiction and try Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, and Interior Secretary Néstor Reverol for CAH.