Assist Libya to End Violence by Facilitating Arrest, Surrender of Fugitives, Says International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Briefing Security Council
Deploring continued suffering of civilians in Libya, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court today called on the Security Council to redouble its efforts to ensure compliance with her mandate to end impunity, in order to foster stability in the country.
“The implosion of Libya must carry a heavy burden on the conscience of the international community and galvanize meaningful action to assist the Libyan authorities to bring stability to the country, and an end to the cycle of violence, atrocities and impunity,” Fatou Bensouda said in her Office’s eighteenth report following referral of the situation to the Court.
Her Office, she said, has made further progress in its existing investigations and is continuing to work on applications for new warrants of arrest, in its efforts to hold accountable those alleged to be responsible for committing serious crimes.
Unfortunately, she said, three fugitives who stand accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity have not been handed over, including Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, who has been determined to be in Libya along with Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli, who has even been promoted within the national army. Information on the third, Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, points to his presence in Egypt.
She urged all States, including Libya and Egypt, to facilitate the immediate arrest and surrender of the fugitives to the Court.
Noting continued killing of civilians, a car bombing, indiscriminate shelling, summary executions and airstrikes against a migrant detention centre, she flagged her Office’s continued assessments of breaches of international law. “Let me be clear, I will not hesitate bring new applications for warrants of arrest against those most responsible for alleged crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC [International Criminal Court],” she avowed.
Her Office continued to analyse events at migrant detention centres in that light, she said. Cooperation with national authorities has helped identify which judicial actors are best suited to deal with crimes against migrants, and her Office has also provided key evidence and information to national authorities in several such cases. She recognized the ongoing cooperation of the Libyan Prosecutor-General’s Office in the effort.
She called on all parties to immediately cease all indiscriminate attacks and comply with international humanitarian law and to render fugitives to the Court. Noting that it is nearly a decade since the Council referred the situation to the Court, she affirmed that Libya will continue to be a priority situation for her Office in 2020.
“The people of Libya deserve peace and stability,” she said, concluding, “Bringing those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice facilitates that coveted outcome.”
Following that briefing, Council Members expressed deep concern at the continued violence in Libya and the toll among civilians. Most speakers also expressed full support for the activity of the Prosecutor’s Office in combating impunity and helping restore the rule of law in the country, urging cooperation with the Court.
The representative of Belgium, among those who urged the handover of fugitives to the Court, said that barring such an action, the Council should consider all possible measures, including additions to its Libya sanctions list.
Most speakers emphasized the need to resume the political process to end the violence in Libya. In that vein, the representative of China underlined support for a Libya-owned and Libya-led reconciliation process. The international community should provide the country with support, while also fully respecting its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Speaking after the Council members, the representative of Libya said that while the pursuit of justice is a national and sovereign jurisdiction, the Government of National Accord is fully committed to implementing resolution 1970 (2011) and the related mandate of the International Criminal Court. He recalled his Government’s requests, in addition, for a fact-finding mission to investigate recent attacks and other crimes. National judicial institutions will be capable of holding perpetrators accountable once stability is achieved, he added. He also noted Government efforts to protect migrants.
Recognizing concerns over the slow pace of national efforts to pursue several suspected criminal perpetrators, he said those delays are a result of the ongoing conflict including recent attacks on Tripoli by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Against that backdrop, he urged the Council to continue to prioritize the situation in Libya and to adopt a binding resolution aimed at ending hostilities and compelling aggressor forces to retreat.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the Russian Federation, France, United States, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, Poland, Kuwait, South Africa, Germany, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia and the United Kingdom.
The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 11:15 a.m.
FATOU BENSOUDA, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, presented her Office’s eighteenth report on the situation in Libya pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011). Detailing an escalation of violence there since her last report, she said that “the implosion of Libya must carry a heavy burden on the conscience of the international community and galvanize meaningful action to assist the Libyan authorities to bring stability to the country, and an end to the cycle of violence, atrocities and impunity”. In its efforts to stem impunity and hold accountable those alleged to be responsible for committing serious crimes, she said, her Office has made further progress in its existing investigations and is continuing to work on applications for new warrants of arrest.
Regarding the case against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, she said the Appeals Chamber recently ordered a hearing be schedule for 11 to 12 November to hear materials related to Mr. Gaddafi’s appeal against the decision that deemed his case admissible. Noting that the Security Council had declined to submit observations on the appeal, she stressed that irrespective of the current proceedings, Libya remains under an obligation to arrest and surrender Mr. Gaddafi to the Court. She said that also remaining at large are Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled and Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli. Those three fugitives stand accused of war crimes of murder, torture, outrages upon personal dignity and crimes against humanity of persecution, imprisonment and other inhumane acts. Noting that her Office has information on their current whereabouts, in Libya and Egypt in the case of Mr. Al-Tuhamy, she stated that justice still eludes the victims of their alleged crimes. In fact, Mr. Al-Werfalli has been promoted twice within the Libyan National Army. She urged all States, including Libya and Egypt, to facilitate the immediate arrest and surrender of the fugitives to the Court.
Noting the continued killing of civilians, a car bomb attack that killed several United Nations staff members, indiscriminate shelling of the Tripoli airport, airstrikes against a migrant detention centre and reports of summary executions at Gharyan hospital, she condemned all unlawful violence and reiterated her previous calls to all parties to pay heed to the rules of international humanitarian law. At the same time, she affirmed that her team continues to examine allegations against all parties to assess whether they bear criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute. “Let me be clear, I will not hesitate to bring new applications for warrants of arrest against those most responsible for alleged crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC [International Criminal Court],” she avowed.
Concerning crimes against migrants in Libya, she reported that her team continues to analyse documentary, digital and testimonial evidence related to allegations of crimes at detention centres and is assessing the viability of bringing related cases before the Court. Consistent with the principle of complementarity, in which her Court is a last resort when States do not genuinely investigate and prosecute serious international crimes, her team is assisting States that are investigating and prosecuting individuals who have alleged committed crimes against migrants in Libya, she said. So far, cooperation with national actors has helped identify which judicial elements are best placed for this purpose. Her Office has also provided key evidence and information to national authorities in a number of cases relating to crimes against migrants. In that effort, she recognized the ongoing cooperation of the Libyan Prosecutor-General’s Office.
“The cycle of impunity has provided a breeding ground for atrocities in Libya,” she said, reiterating the need to ensure accountability, notably through the arrest of fugitives. She called on all parties to immediately cease all indiscriminate attacks and comply with international humanitarian law. Affirming that Libya will continue to be a priority situation for her Office in 2020, she noted that it will soon be a decade since the Security Council referred the situation to it. “The people of Libya deserve peace and stability,” she said, concluding, “Bringing those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice facilitates that coveted outcome.”
GENNADY V. KUZMIN (Russian Federation) said the Prosecutor’s report gives “strangely short shrift” to results achieved by the International Criminal Court in Libya. “I have no comment,” he said, stressing that the people of Libya deserve stability.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) described it as deplorable that three of the Court’s warrants in Libya have not been carried out and that impunity continues unabated. “The Security Council definitely cannot remain indifferent to this situation” when itself brought the situation to the Court’s attention, he said. Pointing out that the Prosecutor’s office has information on the whereabouts of three suspects, he called on all concerned authorities to facilitate their immediate handover. Barring such a handover, the Council should consider all possible measures, including additions to its Libya sanctions list. Urging stakeholders to support national-level investigations and prosecutions, he emphasized that the International Criminal Court is not responsible for prosecuting all suspects accused of committing serious crimes — instead, it is only intended to be complementary to State efforts.
SHERAZ GASRI (France) said a permanent criminal court is more necessary than ever to break the cycles of violence and impunity present in too many conflict situations. Describing the Court as the pillar of such efforts at the international level, she underlined France’s support for the Prosecutor’s work in Libya, where unacceptable human rights violations have increased in recent months. There is an urgent need for the parties to resume dialogue, agree on a ceasefire and reach a political solution leading to fair and credible elections. Calling for an international conference to support those goals, she urged all stakeholders — especially the Libyan parties themselves — to cooperate with a view to restoring stability. All States concerned, whether or not they are parties to the Rome Statute, must cooperate with the Court. Meanwhile, she said, crimes committed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and other non-State groups, as well as crimes against migrants, should be investigated.
JULIAN SIMCOCK (United States) said it is shameful that some of the most notorious perpetrators of crimes against Libya’s people continue to enjoy impunity. Calling on anyone harbouring those individuals to deliver them to the Libya’s authorities, he said their prosecution would deliver a powerful message to any future abusers. Expressing regret that “we collectively have little to show to the Libyan people”, he pointed out that Libya’s civil war continues with casualties escalating and human rights abuses — including torture, sexual violence, forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests — ongoing. Anyone responsible for such crimes, including State authorities, must be held to account. Calling for a ceasefire, a political agreement and State reforms, he went on to condemn recent attacks against United Nations staff and any others working to restore stability to the country. While justice is crucial, the right tools must be used. In that context, he reiterated the United States longstanding position against the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over any non-Parties absent a referral from the Security Council.
TIEMOKO MORIKO (Côte d’Ivoire), affirming support for the Office of the Prosecutor and calling on all States to fully cooperate with the Court to bring an end to impunity, expressed deep concern that continued violence in Libya has allowed ISIS/Da’esh to take root. In that context, he regretted the decision of the European Union to suspend operation Sophia, the bloc’s military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean. He urged all parties to bring alleged perpetrators to justice. Justice must be part of reconciliation in Libya and expansion of the Court’s activities to include crimes committed against migrants is critical, he stressed. He urged the Security Council to pool efforts with the African Union Peace and Security Council to bring about a swift end to the turmoil in Libya and provide an environment in which justice can be served there.
PAUL DUCLOS (Peru) expressed deep concern over violence against civilians in Libya, including against vulnerable individuals. Reports of atrocity crimes are particularly troubling, he said. He called on Libya’s authorities as well as those of all other relevant nations to execute the arrest warrants from the Court. Cooperation with the Court must be seen as an opportunity to strengthen judicial capacity in the national Government as well. Affirming the need for the Court to investigate crimes against migrants, he said that its activities are an essential element in the international rules-based order.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said that her country remains supportive of the International Criminal Court’s efforts to fight impunity and ensure the accountability of those responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern committed in Libya. Poland welcomes the cooperation of States and other stakeholders with the Office of the Prosecutor regarding its investigations on the situation in Libya and encourages its further development. Cooperation with the Office is particularly important given the multiple, serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that have been reportedly committed since the issuing of the previous report of the Prosecutor. Her country is grateful for the Office’s monitoring, investigative and analytical activity relating to such crimes.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) expressed support for the work of the Prosecutor’s Office amid delicate security conditions in Libya. Joining other speakers in voicing concern over recent clashes on the ground, he called on the parties to exercise restraint, abide by international law and engage in dialogue. He also echoed expressions of concern over detention of migrants in poor conditions. The International Criminal Court must take into account national criminal jurisdiction in order to achieve complementarity with Libya’s judicial system, he said.
ZHANG DIANBIN (China) said the situation in Libya must be resolved through a political process. All parties should focus on the interests of the people, reach a ceasefire, ease tensions and return to a course of dialogue. China supports any efforts with a view to those goals, including the Special Representative’s proposed three-point plan. Calling on the international community to play its role in that process by implementing all relevant recommendations, he underlined his delegation’s support for a Libya-owned and Libya-led reconciliation process. The international community should provide the country with support, while also fully respecting its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said, adding that China’s position on the International Criminal Court remains unchanged.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) expressed support for resolution 1970 (2011), which calls for a cessation of violence towards civilians and mandating the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity. While South Africa is concerned with the lack of movement on some of the cases, it is encouraged by Libya’s efforts to try cases domestically, and urges that justice is carried out as expeditiously as possible. While welcoming the Office of the Prosecutor’s increased focus on cooperation with Tripoli and other relevant States to support national investigations and prosecutions, South Africa remains concerned about the ongoing fighting in Libya and condemns the loss of civilian lives and crimes against migrants. He called on all parties to recommit to building durable peace in Libya on the basis of inclusive political dialogue.
JUERGEN SCHULZ (Germany), expressing full support to the Court and its mandate in Libya, commended the Prosecutor’s efforts. More needs to happen to fully implement that mandate, he noted, calling on the Office to step up its efforts, while also calling on Governments to execute arrest warrants. Expressing concern of reports of sexual violence against migrants, he recalled the provisions for sanctions adopted by the Council for such crimes. Reacting to the attacks on civilians, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, he reiterated the obligation of the international community to ensure accountability. The flow of weapons must also stop immediately, and all stakeholders must uphold their responsibilities to enforce the embargo. He called on all Council members to support the Court to end impunity, calling on those who have not acceded to the Rome Statute to do so.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic), expressing condolences to the families of civilians killed in Libya in recent months, affirmed the importance that justice be upheld in the country. He stressed the need to protect civilians and their infrastructure as well as to ensure that migrants are not abused. In that vein, he called for continued investigation of alleged crimes against migrants by the Prosecutor, stressing the importance of the principle of complementarity in such efforts. He also deplored the lack of progress in the cases described by the Prosecutor, and the promotion of one of the defendants in the national army. He called on the Council to continue to encourage cooperation of authorities with the Court. The preventive and deterrent role of the Court is crucial to restoring peace to Libya’s society, he stressed.
JOB OBIANG ESONO MBENGONO (Equatorial Guinea), expressing deep concern over the humanitarian situation in Libya, called for the unity of that country’s people to make stability possible and make Libyans themselves the leaders of their own future. For that purpose, he urged dialogue under the United Nations process, with the support of the African Union. Emphatically condemning attacks on civilians and their infrastructure, he reiterated that they can be taken as war crimes. The abuse of migrants must also be addressed. The Council must intensify its efforts to a conflict that could have been avoided, he commented, adding that his country’s position on the International Criminal Court has already been stated.
MUHSIN SYIHAB (Indonesia) called for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Libya and reiterated his country’s support for efforts by the Special Representative and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to align parties of the conflict to return to negotiations. Expressing concern about “grave violations of international law” and “serious multidimensional crimes” outlined by the Prosecutor, he went on to enjoin all parties and armed groups involved in the fighting to fully respect international humanitarian laws and take measures to protect civilians. Turning to the Court’s proceedings, he said the international community must take care to avoid provoking further violence and jeopardizing peace while making decisions. He pointed out that it is Libya’s obligation to ensure accountability for crimes committed in its territory, which is why “the referral of the situation to the Court should not disarm the Libyan competent authorities from invoking its jurisdiction to investigate gross violations of human rights and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom), Council President for November, spoke in her national capacity, expressing support for the International Criminal Court. Its work in Libya is especially critical amid the escalations in recent months, she said, calling on all States — both parties and non-parties to the Rome Statute — to cooperate with the arrest and handover of individuals with warrants against them. Noting that the current conflict is having an unacceptable impact on the security and of civilians, she emphasized that there can be no military solution. All parties must commit to a ceasefire and end the indiscriminate shelling of civilian infrastructure. Support for international criminal justice is a crucial part of the United Kingdom’s foreign policy, she said, noting that her country has always been a strong supporter of the Court’s mission and will continue to support the Prosecutor’s team in Libya.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) said that while the pursuit of justice is a national and sovereign jurisdiction, it does not preclude cooperation with the complementary work of the International Criminal Court. Recognizing concerns over the slow pace of national efforts to pursue several suspected criminal perpetrators, he said those delays are a result of the ongoing conflict including recent attacks on Tripoli by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Recalling that Libya has repeatedly requested the Security Council to deploy a fact-finding mission to investigate crimes committed on its territory — including in the context of the most recent attacks — he said national judicial institutions will be capable of holding perpetrators accountable once stability is achieved. Outlining efforts to resume a political dialogue, he recalled that Libya — with the help of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — moved migrants from conflict-affected areas to safer ones. The Government of National Accord is taking all possible measures to protect civilians and keep them out of harm’s way and is fully committed to implementing resolution 1970 (2011) — including with regard to the Court’s mandate. Against that backdrop, he urged the Council to continue to prioritize the situation in Libya and to adopt a binding resolution aimed at ending hostilities and compelling the aggressor forces to retreat.
* The 8659th Meeting was closed.