ICC Prosecutor: Libyan crisis is our priority for 2017, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi must be handed to ICC

Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda briefs the Security Council. © UN Photo/Amanda Voisard
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda briefs the Security Council.
© UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced that it will make the situation in Libya a priority in 2017.

The ICC prosecutor said Wednesday that there must be an end to the widespread violence, lawlessness and impunity in the country and the tragic consequences of the conflict borne by civilians.

“My commitment to make Libya a priority situation in 2017 is compelled by a number of factors,” Fatou Bensouda, ICC Prosecutor, told a Security Council debate, noting that those factors include the widespread violence, lawlessness and impunity in the country, a desire to provide justice for victims of Rome Statute crimes, and alleviate the suffering of those civilians, and the opportunities for further investigation.

The situation in Libya was referred to her Office by the 15-member Council. “The referral by definition carries great responsibility to seek justice for the countless civilians who have been victims of the widespread crimes in Libya since 15 February 2011,” she said.

Regarding the case of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a former Libyan political figure and a son of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, she said that media reports suggested that he had been released from detention in Zintan on the basis of a grant of amnesty.

“I must report to you that reliable sources, including the Libyan Prosecutor-General’s office, have confirmed this information to be incorrect,” she said, adding that Saif al-Islam is still in Zintan and outside the custody and control of the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord.

She called on the Libyan authorities to ensure that they do everything possible to have him transferred to the ICC without any further delay.

As for the case of Abdullah Al-Senussi, former Libyan intelligence chief, her Office has stated that it awaits the full report of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on the conduct of the domestic trial, and will study it carefully when it is available, she said.

“At this stage, her Office remains of the view that no new facts have arisen which negate the basis on which the Pre-Trial Chamber found Mr A1-Senussi’s case inadmissible before the Court,” she added.

She said that the persistent instability and armed conflict prevents her Office from conducting investigations within Libyan territory, in relation to both existing and potential new cases.

However, her Office intends to apply for new warrants of arrest under seal as soon as practicable and hopes to have new arrest warrants served in the near future, she said, noting that her Office’s ongoing efforts to arrest additional suspects have advanced significantly.

“Timely execution of these new arrest warrants will be crucial, will require coordinated efforts by States, and may also require support from the Council,” she said, adding that she has decided to allocate additional resources from within her Office’s overall budget to the Libya situation.

“Without this Council’s support, this allocation will necessarily come at the expense of investigations of other crimes in other situations,” she said.

“I appeal to this Council to recognise the collective responsibility arising out of your referral and to support financial assistance by the United Nations for my Office’s Libya investigations in 2017. The Libyan people deserve no less,” The ICC Prosecutor stressed.

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