ICC chief prosecutor on Libya: Justice delayed is justice denied

ICC chief prosecutor calls for the enforcing of justice in Libya and bringing wanted criminals regardless of history and nationality to the court of law to be punished for their crimes

Bensouda argued that for the sake of present and future generations, the Court must be allowed to work without impediment. [Photo: UN]
The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda told the Security Council on Monday that accountability is an important move on the path to peace and prosperity in Libya.

Bensouda praised the country’s new transitional government and other initiatives aimed at restoring the country’s long-awaited peace and stability, but she insisted that no peace could be achieved without accountability for serious crimes committed on its soil.

Unexecuted arrest warrants for suspected crimes against humanity or war crimes, according to Prosecutor Bensouda, hinder the judicial process, undermine transparency, and potentially obstruct closure for victims.

She stated that ICC warrants must be “executed in a timely manner.”

Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli, who allegedly executed 43 civilians as stated in two arrest warrants, is among those suspected to have committed grave crimes in Libya, according to the chief prosecutor.

“The unwillingness of those in power in eastern Libya to transfer Mr. Al-Werfalli to the Court… has contributed to a climate of impunity”, she said, calling on Libya to investigate and provide the relevant information to the ICC.

At the same time, she emphasized that a warrant for Said Gaddafi, a “willful fugitive of justice,” remains pending, and that Libya is still required by law to arrest and surrender him to the Court for trial.

She emphasized that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

She reported “concerning facts” regarding mercenary and foreign fighter operations in the region, emphasizing that their crimes could come under the Court’s jurisdiction “regardless of the nationality of the persons concerned.”

Ms. Bensouda stated that the discovery of mass graves in Tarhouna has resulted in positive talks with national judicial authorities, and that continued attempts have improved coordination with national authorities and collaborators on the ground, “opening much-needed possibilities for the protection and gathering of evidence for potential prosecutions,” she said.

She also expressed gratitude to those who have endorsed the ICC’s mandate, while also emphasizing that issues arise when “political machinations threaten to interfere with the path of justice.”

Bensouda emphasized that the Court must be able to function without hindrance for the sake of current and future generations.

She argued that working with the Security Council to advance justice and the rule of law for atrocity offences, as well as the negotiated resolution of conflicts, was fundamental to the UN’s founding ideals.

“In Libya, as in all other cases where we have authority, my office will continue to carry out its mission objectively and impartially,” Ms. Bensouda concluded.

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