With violence in Libya escalating, civil society is calling for new ICC investigations into potential war crimes and crimes against humanity. But in a report to the UN Security Council this week, the ICC prosecutor said the international community must do much more to support accountability in the divided country.
ICC report to UN Security Council on Libya investigation
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda yesterday made her biannual report to the Security Council on her Office’s investigation in Libya. The Security Council referred Libya to the ICC in February 2011. Arrest warrants were issued for former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi.
The prosecutor deplored the increasing violence in Libya and its impact on the country’s civilian population and institutions. She stated that accountability for those responsible for violations or abuses of human rights or violations of international humanitarian law is essential, and that the voices of local actors on achieving justice must be taken in consideration.
Libya has struggled to put in place a stable government since a general election was held in 2012. Fighting between rival militias caused severe insecurity, with over 400,000 people displaced. Human rights groups have observed attacks on civilians by armed groups that could amount to war crimes, as well as arbitrary detentions, torture, forced displacement and unlawful killings.
The prosecutor called on the international community to be “more proactive in exploring solutions in order to tangibly help Libya restore stability and strengthen accountability for Rome Statute crimes. Toward this end, my Office has encouraged the formation of an international contact group on justice issues through which material, legal and other support could be provided to Libya.”
Civil society calls for action
Ahead of the report, we urged ICC member states on the Council to compel cooperation with the ICC, underlining that non-cooperation with the Court in Libya is essentially non-cooperation with the UN.
William Pace, convenor of the Coalition for the ICC:
“Security Council members should support the ICC investigations in Libya by ensuring that the Zintan Brigade and the Libyan authorities cooperate fully with and provide all the necessary support to the prosecutor and judicial chambers of the ICC.”
The Zintan Brigade has custody of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and reportedly put him on trial. The ICC issued a warrant for Gaddafi’s arrest and ordered Libyan authorities to transfer him to the Court.
As part of our Coalition’s campaign at the UN Universal Periodic Review, we urged states to recommend Libya join the ICC and implement the Rome Statute into its national law.
Human Rights Watch called on the prosecutor to investigate recent and ongoing crimes in Libya. The group also called on Security Council members to speak loudly against impunity in the country.
Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch:
“The Security Council is watching Libya descend into chaos as horrendous crimes multiply. Given the Libyan authorities’ inability to rein in these abuses, much less prosecute those responsible, it’s time for the ICC prosecutor to expand her investigations.”
Security Council support for the ICC in situations that it has referred to the prosecutor has been lacking. Our Coalition has repeatedly called for the Council to take a more consistent approach to ICC referrals and to provide the Court with the necessary support once a referral is made.
“The UN, when it requests the ICC to assist in the maintenance of international peace and security, should assist the ICC with political, peace enforcement and financial support.”
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