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Clooney Foundation sues Venezuela over alleged rights violations | Court News

The lawsuit calls on Argentina to apply the principle of “universal jurisdiction” to sue Venezuela for alleged violations.

The Clooney Foundation for Justice has filed a lawsuit in Argentina accusing Venezuelan security forces of crimes against humanity.

Wednesday’s lawsuit accused Venezuelan authorities of using repressive methods such as torture and extrajudicial executions against political opponents.

“In the face of endemic impunity in Venezuela, with the invaluable support of organizations like the Clooney Justice Foundation, the enormous efforts of victims for truth, justice and reparation must not fall on deaf ears,” Erica Gerrard Erika Guevara, Amnesty International’s Americas director, Erika Guevara, said in a news release.

Rights groups have called on Argentine courts to prosecute the case under a principle known as “universal jurisdiction,” which allows investigation and prosecution of certain crimes, such as torture, from anywhere in the world.

The International Criminal Court is investigating allegations of human rights abuses in Venezuela, and an independent UN mission concluded in 2019 that the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had committed crimes against humanity.

The Clooney Foundation lawsuit was filed on behalf of two related families who were allegedly targeted by Venezuelan authorities.

“We’re talking about arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial executions,” said Ignacio Jovtis, a lawyer for the Clooney Foundation, which consists of actor George Clooney and his wife, Founded by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

“These are not isolated cases. The cases we present illustrate cases that we have been documenting over the years,” Jovtis added.

Tensions heat up in Venezuela

Venezuela’s government has pushed back against allegations of human rights abuses, with Maduro’s government facing a crisis of legitimacy following a disputed 2018 election.

But in recent months, some of Venezuela’s neighbors have moved to restore relations with Maduro’s government. For example, in August, Colombia restored full diplomatic relations, and in January, Brazil followed suit.

However, scrutiny of Venezuela’s human rights record has sparked tensions at a recent meeting of regional leaders. At a summit in late May, Chilean President Gabriel Boric brushed aside criticism that characterization of Venezuela as “anti-democratic” was merely a politically charged narrative.

“It’s not a narrative structure. It’s a reality. It’s serious,” Borik said, adding that human rights are “basic and important” for Chile.

use of universal jurisdiction

Wednesday’s lawsuit was filed in Buenos Aires because Argentina has investigated alleged crimes against humanity in countries including Spain and Myanmar under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Amnesty International said at least 20 countries had “conducted investigations, initiated trials or completed trials” under universal jurisdiction.

In 2010, for example, a complaint was launched against allegations of crimes against humanity committed during the tenure of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

Argentine courts have also previously opened an investigation into the possible genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

“Argentina is one of the few countries in the world that applies universal jurisdiction,” Joftis said. “We believe we have a very strong case.”

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