Venezuela to prosecute lawmakers who backed failed uprising

Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello speaks during a rally in support of the government of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela April 30, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 May 2019

Venezuela to prosecute lawmakers who backed failed uprising

  • Pence hinted that the United States could impose sanctions on the Venezuelan judges if they use the court as “a political tool for a regime that usurps democracy

CARACAS: Venezuela will prosecute seven lawmakers who backed last week’s failed uprising orchestrated by opposition leader Juan Guaido, the country’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, as Washington removed sanctions against Caracas’ sacked spy chief for backing the revolt.
The court, which announced the ruling in a statement, said it asked Attorney General Tarek William Saab to handle the “criminal investigation” into opposition deputies for “high treason” and “conspiracy.”
Soon after the announcement the Constituent Assembly — which effectively acts as a regime rubber stamp — stripped the seven lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity.
“What comes now? A trial,” said Constituent Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello, the regime’s second most powerful figure after President Nicolas Maduro.
Cabello ominously added that three unnamed other lawmakers had been identified and would undergo the same process.
The list includes Henry Ramos Allup, the former speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly — but not Guaido, its current head, recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by more than 50 countries.
In Washington, US Vice President Mike Pence kept up the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro’s shaken regime by announcing that sanctions against his sacked intelligence chief General Christopher Figuera were being lifted.
Pence, speaking at the State Department, said he hoped that Figuera’s defection would inspire other senior Venezuelans to break ranks with Maduro.
Washington “will consider sanctions relief for all those who step up for the constitution and support the rule of law,” Pence said.
“I hope the actions our nation is taking today will encourage others to follow the example of General Cristopher Figuera,” he said.

Pence hinted that the United States could impose sanctions on the Venezuelan judges if they use the court as “a political tool for a regime that usurps democracy, indicts political prisoners and promotes authoritarianism.”
“If the Supreme Court in Venezuela does not return to its constitutional mandate to uphold the rule of law, the United States of America will hold all 25 of its magistrates accountable for their actions,” Pence said.
In his speech, Pence also announced that a US Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, will return to the area in June for a five-month mission aimed at assisting neighboring countries that are caring for some of the millions of Venezuelans who have fled their country’s crumbling economy.
The other lawmakers named on the Venezuelan Supreme Court prosecution list were Edgar Zambrano, Luis Florido, Marianela Magallanes, Simon Calzadilla, Americo De Grazia and Richard Blanco.
The Constituent Assembly has said it would suspend the immunity of any lawmakers who backed the April 30 uprising, which set off two days of violent clashes between security forces and protesters that left five people dead.
Dozens more were injured and more than 233 were arrested in the unrest.
Saab, the attorney general, has said separately that authorities have already issued 18 arrest warrants against “civilians and military plotters” following the April 30 uprising.
The international Contact Group on Venezuela, which met in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose on Tuesday, announced it would send a high-level mission to the crisis-wracked country to monitor humanitarian aid distribution and encourage dialogue.


Dhaka backs ICC call for Rohingya inquiry

This combination of file photos created on November 14, 2019, shows Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (L) attending the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok on November 4, 2019 and Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing attending the 71th anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon on July 19, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Dhaka backs ICC call for Rohingya inquiry

  • Full-scale investigation will exert ‘real pressure’ on Myanmar over repatriation, experts say

DHAKA: Bangladeshi experts on Saturday welcomed the International Criminal Court’s decision to launch a full-scale investigation into Myanmar’s alleged mass persecution of the Rohingya.
Following a request from the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, earlier this year, the court on Thursday approved an inquiry into alleged atrocities carried out by Myanmar since 2016, which the UN has previously referred to as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Delwar Hossain, director general of the East Asia wing of Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry, said the case was “very sensitive”
for Bangladesh.
“We consider the matter like the other international community. Here the ICC will conduct its investigation independently and we will not intervene or hamper their investigation process,” Hossain told Arab News.
“Earlier, too, when the ICC team visited Bangladesh to hear the plight of the Rohingya, they moved freely wherever they wanted. We have just facilitated their movements,” he added.
Prof. Akmol Hossain of Dhaka University said that as a signatory of the Rome statute, Bangladesh must comply with ICC rules and regulations, adding that, in principle, the court’s latest move is a “victory”
for Bangladesh.
“The ICC will investigate the mass persecution against Rohingyas on its own. Gambia has filed the case from international responsibility. Now it is primarily established that injustices were made to the Rohingya in Myanmar,” Hossain said.
“When the full-scale investigation against Myanmar begins, it will create a lot pressure on the country. Bangladesh needs to continue its diplomatic efforts among the international community to build more pressure on Myanmar which may create some opportunities for a sustainable Rohingya repatriation,” he added.
Former Ambassador Rashed Ahmed Chowdhury said the ICC’s decision was “a most welcoming development.”
Myanmar will never accept the Rohingya if the issue remains unresolved, he said.
“This is the real pressure on Myanmar and it will bring some solutions,” Chowdhury said.
“Now international law will take its own course to investigate the genocide. It is difficult to foresee what will happen, but it is a major
development.”
Bangladesh is currently hosting almost 1.2 million Rohingya at the squalid refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, which is considered the world’s largest refugee settlement.
Since August 2017, more than 750,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape persecution in their homeland.
The UN has said that attacks on the Rohingya had a “genocidal intent.”