The International Criminal Court (ICC) based in the Dutch town of The Hague has refused to iunvestigate former Bolivian President Evo Morales for alleged crimes against humanity, it was announced Monday.
The ICC will not launch an inquiry into Morales' involvement -or that os his followers- in a road blockade which prevented the passage of oxygen tankers in 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bolivian government, then run by the currently disgraced interim President Jeanine Áñez, asked the ICC in September 2020 to delve into what they claimed had caused the death of 40 coronavirus patients because oxygen could not reach hospitals in time.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said he would not open a formal investigation as the alleged acts were not within the jurisdiction of the Hague-based court. Following a thorough and independent evaluation of the information available to my office, I have determined that the criteria set out in the Rome Statute for opening an investigation are not met, Khan said in a statement.
I have come to the conclusion that the alleged conduct does not satisfy the contextual elements of crimes against humanity, he added.
The Rome Statute sets the guidelines under which the ICC is to take action in cases of atrocious crimes committed worldwide.
States can formally submit filings to the ICC, which conducts a preliminary inquiry before deciding whether to launch a full investigation.
The Áñez administration had claimed Morales and organizers of a road blockade deliberately prevented the prompt delivery of medical supplies to hospitals during their 12-day campaign.
The blockade began in September 2020 after the government postponed elections several times. Khan said some protesters may have acted recklessly though protest leaders urged them to let the drugs through. Even if the alleged acts during the lockdown had been proven, they would not have been qualified as a coordinated attack against the civilian population and thus as crimes against humanity, Khan said.
He added that his conclusions should not be considered as taking a position on any of the events or dynamics related to the alleged incidents or on the experience that the people of Bolivia had of those events.