Venezuela official on sanction list was let into Netherlands
THE HAGUE – The Netherlands allowed a visit of President of the Venezuela Supreme Court Maikel Moreno, who is on a European sanction list, to visit an anniversary event at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in July this year.
Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok stated this on Thursday in response to written questions submitted by Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Sjoerd Sjoerdsma of the Democratic Party D66. The Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reported on Moreno’s visit to The Hague.
Blok confirmed that Moreno, a high-ranking official in the Nicolás Maduro government, was indeed in the Netherlands to attend the 20th anniversary of the Charter of Rome at the International Criminal Court. Three other Venezuelan officials accompanied Moreno, who is on the list of 18 persons from Venezuela against whom the European Union (EU) has imposed sanctions.
Responding to a question from Sjoerdsma why Moreno was present at the anniversary, Blok explained that the event at the International Criminal Court concerned a gathering of the Assembly of States Parties for which all parties to the treaty had been invited.
Moreno was not personally invited, but delegated by the Venezuela government as representative at this event. The International Criminal Court had asked the Netherlands as hosting country to make an exception due to the 20th anniversary of the Charter of Rome.
Blok responded in a confirmative manner to Sjoerdsma’s question whether it was correct that Moreno features on the European list of sanctioned persons. “The EU has drafted a sanction list due to the undermining of the democracy and the violation of human rights in Venezuela. On this list appear 18 high-ranking Venezuelan officials, including Moreno,” stated the minister.
The EU member states have agreed that travel restrictions are a part of this sanction policy against these Venezuelan high-ranking officials. In principle, the Netherlands has to adhere to this sanction policy, but exceptions are possible, Blok explained.
Based on the Membership Treaty between the International Criminal Court and the Dutch Kingdom, the Netherlands as the host country was obligated to grant Moreno access to Dutch territory. The EU was informed about the decision to exempt Moreno from the travel restrictions.
According to the minister, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made it clear to the Venezuelan authorities that the sanctions will be maintained and that Moreno may only partake in the activities organised by the International Criminal Court.
Member of Parliament (MP) Sjoerdsma also asked about Moreno’s speech at the event in The Hague and its relation to developments in Venezuela. Minister Blok clarified that Moreno stated during his speech that the Charter of Rome should not be used for internal affairs.
Blok stated that possibly Moreno referred to the preliminary investigation that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has started into the situation in Venezuela. “Moreno also spoke about the Venezuelan Constitution in which democracy, equality and human rights are secured,” said the minister.
“However, the Dutch government is of the opinion that democracy needs to be restored. The Venezuela Parliament has been put out of action, the most recent elections were not free and fair and human rights are under great pressure,” added Blok.