Ensuring that there is no impunity for those alleged to have committed serious crimes in Libya is crucial to bring lasting peace to the country, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) stressed today, as she lamented the slow progress to date in this vital aspect of the democratic transition.
“Individuals alleged to have committed serious crimes in Libya must be brought to justice either in Libya or at the International Criminal Court: this is not negotiable,” Fatou Bensouda said in her briefing to the Security Council.
“Above all, we hope we can count on the cooperation of States in facilitating the smooth arrest and surrender of those against whom warrants will be issued,” she added. “This is key for sending a clear message to would-be Libyan perpetrators and indeed all other would-be perpetrators that the international community is watching and will no longer allow impunity to reign unchecked.”
The 15-member body referred the situation in Libya to the ICC in 2011, the year that the country embarked on a democratic transition following the ouster of Muammar al-Qadhafi.
The Prosecutor cited the need for the Government to immediately surrender Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi – the former leader’s son, who has been indicted by the ICC in relation to attacks against protesters and rebels during the 2011 uprising – to the Court without further delay.
“National judicial proceedings can never be an excuse for failure to comply with the Chamber’s order,” she noted.
Ms. Bensouda also regretted that progress has been slow in the case of former senior intelligence official Abdullah Al-Senussi, who was also indicted for alleged crimes against humanity. The ICC had decided that he could be tried in Libya by the national authorities.
“We urge the Government of Libya to ensure that the case against him is proceeded with without undue delay and with full respect for his due process rights,” she stated.
Overall, the Prosecutor noted that Libya continues to face “serious security challenges and deep political crisis” which undermine its ability to effect much needed meaningful judicial and other changes.
“The steady decline in the security situation has hampered my Office’s investigative activities and hindered possibilities for effective interaction with the Government of Libya,” she stated.
“Strengthening Libya’s ability to assume its security responsibilities remains key to the success of our joint endeavours to bring lasting peace in Libya,” she added, noting the need for increased and well-coordinated international efforts to provide support to the country.
Ms. Bensouda said that reports of torture and mistreatment as well as deaths by torture in illegal detention centres are “worrying,” and stressed that illegal detentions and torture should have no place in modern Libya. “Those alleged to be responsible for these crimes must be investigated, prosecution and face the full force of the law,” she stated.
To assist Libya, the Prosecutor proposed that the country’s key partners should seriously consider forming a contact group on justice issues through which material and legal support could be provided regularly to enhance Libya’s efforts to bring justice to victims.
She hoped the proposal will be followed up as soon as possible, saying that this will send a clear message to the Government that its key partners intend to follow through on their pledges to support justice initiatives and to support the evolving relationship between the ICC and the Government.