Five Western countries issue arrest warrants for suspects in the death of migrants in Libya

The U.N. reports roughly 600,000 migrants comprising more than 40 nationalities are in Libya today. Among them are some 43,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers. Photo via AP

An Italian news report revealed that at least five Western countries will be embarrassed to cooperate in the arrest of alleged suspects in crimes against migrants in Libya, based on the efforts of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Karim Khan, to issue arrest warrants.

The names of the people involved remain confidential, but the Italian report says that some of the names involved may embarrass a number of governments – including Malta – that have dealt with those individuals.

The report added that the names will be announced once Khan’s requests are approved by the ICC, saying that if arrest warrants are issued as expected, “many governments – including Italy, Malta, France, Turkey and Russia – will find themselves more than embarrassed to cooperate in arresting the individuals”.

The requests are related to issues already subject to sanctions by the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States. Until recently, the ICC considered itself virtually incapable of investigating human traffickers, given its jurisdiction to prosecute crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

“Khan says that crimes against migrants in Libya may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, paving the way for the ICC to take action against those involved. On his first visit to Libya, Khan announced that he would submit more requests for arrest warrants.” The report added.

Khan spent several days in Tripoli this month, during which he held a series of meetings with Libyan officials, and then submitted a report to the Security Council on the outcome of his meetings and field observations. He reported information on mass graves he visited in Tarhuna, south of Tripoli, which he described as horrific, and the results of his talks with the Libyan parties, stressing the need for ending impunity while upholding the authority of the Libyan judiciary to try any criminal.

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