Amnesty International said on Tuesday it believes the Venezuelan authorities have committed crimes against humanity in their crackdown on anti-government protests, and urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate.
The rights group said President Nicolas Maduro‘s government responded with “a systematic and widespread policy of repression” in late January, when anti-government protests swept the country after opposition leader Juan Guaido invoked the constitution to declare himself interim president, declaring Maduro’s 2018 re-election illegitimate.
Maduro opponents were tortured and killed during the protests, Amnesty said.
“The nature of the attacks … the level of coordination by the security forces, as well as the signs of similar patterns in 2014 and 2017, leads Amnesty International to believe that the Venezuelan authorities committed crimes against humanity,” Amnesty said in a statement.
Guaido is locked in a bitter power struggle with Maduro, who maintains the support of Russia, China and Turkey, as well as most of the country’s institutions, including the military. He accuses Guaido and the United States of attempting a coup.
Amnesty sent a fact-finding mission to Venezuela in February to research the crackdown on the anti-government protests that preceded and followed Guaido’s swearing-in.