Practice Relating to Rule 158. Prosecution of War Crimes
Section B. Granting of asylum to suspected war criminals
Venezuela’s Law on Refugees and Asylum (2001) states:
Exceptions to the recognition of refugee status. Refugee status will not be granted to persons included in the following cases:
1. … [Persons] that have committed … war crimes or crimes against humanity, as defined in international instruments.
The Law further states: “Asylum cannot be granted to any person that … has committed … war crimes or crimes against humanity, as defined in international instruments.”
Venezuela’s Immigration Law (2004) states:
Foreigners included in the following cases cannot be admitted into the territory of the Republic:
4. [Persons that] … have committed violations of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law or of the provisions contained in the international instruments of which the Republic is a party.
The Law further states:
Article 39. Without prejudice to the sanctions provided in other laws, foreigners included in the following cases will be expelled from the territory of the Republic:
4. Anyone that … has committed violations of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law or of the provisions contained in the international instruments of which the Republic is a party.
In 2001, in the Ballestas case, the Colombian Government requested the preventive detention and extradition of a Colombian citizen belonging to the armed group known as the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army) for the crimes of rebellion, kidnapping, wrongful death, seizure and diversion of aircraft. The Chamber of Criminal Appeals of Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice held:
It is a firm and incontrovertible fact that political armed struggle must be governed by the laws of war. As a result, attacks against innocent [people] or against private rights or the rights of individuals are absolutely unjustified, even where a political motive is claimed.
Thus: if such an attack against innocent [persons] and private rights is carried out with such a violence and malicious intent that it causes unnecessary suffering, havoc and terror, it would [constitute the offence of] indiscriminate terrorism, namely [those acts] that are not selective when choosing their targets and expressly target the innocent.
Terrorism, and particularly indiscriminate terrorism, ignores the requirements of Humanitarian … law; it endangers innocent human lives and many times destroys them …
Terrorism takes many forms, as it can be committed through several means. One is the kidnapping [hijacking] of planes, which is one of the acts of which … [the accused] is accused in Colombia. Another is the kidnapping of persons, which is also one of the acts of which … [the accused] is criminally accused (“extortive kidnapping”) in Colombia …
The authors … or suspects of offences that can be, and are, classified as terrorism
, must not be granted the right to asylum … when they are accused based on a solid [legal] basis of committing acts that not only disrupted the order of a given State, but that of all civilized nations.
[emphasis in original]