Experts urge probe of possible Venezuela 'crimes against humanity'

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Washington (AFP)

A panel of independent international experts has found "reasonable grounds" to refer Venezuela to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, the Organization of American States said Tuesday.

In a report, the experts identified more than 8,292 "extrajudicial executions" since 2015, "often a result of various security forces conducting unlawful and violent home raids where false confrontations are staged to rationalize the summary executions of, commonly, young men."

Their recommendations included opening an investigation into possible crimes against humanity and submitting their report to the International Criminal Court.

The panel "considers that there are reasonable grounds... for considering that acts to which the civilian population of Venezuela was subjected to dating back to at least February 12, 2014, constitute crimes against humanity," the report said.

In addition, the report said more than 12,000 Venezuelans have been arbitrarily detained since the 2013 presidential election, when Nicolas Maduro was elected as president to succeed Hugo Chavez. And more than 1,300 people have been held as political prisoners since then.

OAS chief Luis Almagro, who is from Uruguay and mandated the panel, is an open critic of Maduro.

Maduro won 68 percent of the vote in Venezuela's May election that was boycotted by the opposition and condemned as illegitimate by much of the international community.