People of Libya Need to Be Ensured Justice, Not ‘an Abstract Idea’, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Says, Briefing Security Council from Embattled Country
Heartbreaking accounts of violence from survivors in Libya underscore the collective obligation to deliver justice — and not “as an abstract idea” — following the Security Council’s referral of the case to the International Criminal Court in 2011, stressed its top prosecutor, who, marking the first visit of his Office to Libya in a decade, briefed the 15-nation organ via videoconference.
“More needs to be done to ensure justice does not solely remain a value or idea, but something felt by the people of Libya,” said Karim Khan, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Describing harrowing visits to sites of torture and execution, including Tarhuna, where victims were kept in metal boxes in conditions amounting to “calculated inhumanity” before being executed, he reported that Libyan forensic experts unearthed as many as 250 bodies from mounds of rubbish, consisting of dead dogs and goats and “every waste product known to mankind”. Following that, he met victims with heartbreaking stories to share, some missing up to 24 members of their families, including a mother whose son was pried from her, never to be seen again.
There was a prevalent fatigue in Libya about justice and accountability, he said, emblematized by the statement of a survivor who told him: “What is justice? We keep hearing about justice; where are the results?” Since 2011, such stories and sentiments have spread far beyond Tarhuna, to every part of Libya, he emphasized, adding: “Justice is not about power or the powerful. It is about those who want the basics — a modicum of justice for their loved ones whose lives mattered the world to them.” Achieving this is not “mission impossible, if we are willing to coalesce around human values; not just the legal norms that spring from those human values,” he stated.
He also detailed progress made by his Office since his last address to the Council in April, including the gathering of a variety of evidentiary material, and greater engagement with Libyan authorities. In September, a Joint Investigation Team, including Italy, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and others, tackled human trafficking resulting in key individuals being transferred from Ethiopia to Italy and the Netherlands, where allegations of torture and slavery will be investigated by domestic courts. “The ICC is not an apex court; it is a hub,” he stated, adding that work must be done collectively to ensure greater accountability and less space for impunity.
In the ensuing discussion, many delegates welcomed progress made on the file and on ensuring cooperation with Libyan authorities, while some urged pressure to be brought to bear on the latter to promote accountability through addressing armed groups and outstanding arrest warrants. Several speakers voiced concern about the deplorable conditions faced by migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in detention centres, stressing the need for more to be done to investigate and prosecute such crimes.
The delegate of Kenya was among those raising such concerns, reiterating her call on the Prosecutor to provide further reporting on crimes against migrants, which may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. It must be considered how the explicit and implicit national policies of countries claiming to assist in stemming irregular migration may be continuing the indignity visited on migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, she added.
The delegate of the United States, along with others, called on Libyan authorities to do more to ensure that former senior officials of the Qadhafi regime — including Saif al-Islam Qadhafi — face justice, noting that such efforts have been pending for 11 years. He also noted that the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) found reasonable grounds to believe members of the al-Kaniyat militia committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Tarhuna. More must be done to address the proliferation and legitimization of armed groups acting as “islands of control” outside of any State authority.
In a similar vein, the representative of Albania, while taking note of encouraging signs, including closer cooperation between UNSMIL and the Office of the Presidency Council of Libya, also underscored the need to achieve concrete cooperation in the interest of justice. In addition, he underlined the need to provide full and secure access to the whole territory, to relevant documentation and to crime scenes, especially when key witnesses are threatened.
The representative of Mexico underlined the importance of addressing the International Criminal Court’s budgetary requirements, stressing that the United Nations must bear the costs of the situations referred to the International Criminal Court by the Security Council. Further, victims must be at the centre of the work of the Office of the Prosecutor and must be provided with care and psychosocial support, he emphasized.
However, the Russian Federation’s delegate observed that the report, which did not show any real developments, was presented to the Council on the eve of the meeting, preventing any analysis or preparation for a substantive discussion. Pointing out that no court had assessed the “speedy fabrication of false accusations against Muammar Qadhafi”, which was used to justify the illegal bombing of Libya by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), he called on the Council to consider correcting the mistakes of the past and potentially withdrawing the Libyan file from the International Criminal Court.
The representative of Libya, rounding out the discussion, said that Prosecutor Khan’s visit to his country will strengthen cooperation between the Libyan Public Prosecutor and the International Criminal Court, which complements and does not replace the Libyan judiciary. Outlining progress on the investigation on incidents that took place in Tarhuna, he said the Libyan Public Prosecutor issued arrest warrants against perpetrators of those crimes and was able to arrest a number of them. However, the main challenge is arresting those in hiding or those who fled Libya, he said, calling on Prosecutor Khan to issue arrest warrants against those individuals or anyone supporting them or providing them with shelter.
In addition, he pointed out that the Libyan Public Prosecutor’s Office is following up on cases of criminal acts against migrants, including the incident in Subrata and the deliberate killing of a number of migrants by human traffickers and smugglers. However, he said he was puzzled by the international community’s focus on Libya with respect to those involved in human trafficking, which is an international network that is transnational. Confronting that phenomenon must start with eliminating those networks and their leaders, and imposing sanctions on them, whether in the origin and transit countries in Africa or in destination countries in Europe, without exception.
Also speaking today were the representatives of China, India, the United Kingdom, Norway, Ireland, Gabon, Brazil, France, the United Arab Emirates and Ghana.
The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 11:40 a.m.
KARIM KHAN, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, via videoconference, noted that his address marked the first time in a decade that a prosecutor from the International Criminal Court briefed the Security Council from Libyan soil. He emphasized that what he witnessed over the past few days has reinforced that more needs to be done to ensure justice does not solely remain a value or idea, but something felt by the people of Libya. He went on to describe a “miserable sight” he saw two days ago in Tarhuna of metal boxes into which victims were forced to enter backwards, and their being kept in appalling conditions amounting to “calculated inhumanity”. Following that, he took the same road on which Libyans had been taken to farms, whereupon they were executed, and to the landfill sites where their bodies were thrown without ceremony. He commended the work of Libyan forensic experts who unearthed the bodies of these individuals amid mounds of rubbish, dead dogs and goats, and “every waste product known to mankind”.
In all, 250 bodies were recovered, few of which have been identified, he said, reiterating his Office’s offer to provide further technical support. Following this site visit, he met with victims, each of whom had a heartbreaking story to share. Some had lost 24 family members; others had lost 15 loved ones. A mother recounted how an individual broke into her home and pried her son from her; she never saw her child again. A father said that he could no longer live in his own home where his children had been born; the effect of the loss he experienced meant that his home triggered trauma on a daily basis. “This is the type of heartbreak and suffering that survivors tell us,” Mr. Khan said, emphasizing the collective obligation to deliver justice — and not “as an abstract idea” — following the Council’s referral of the case to the Court.
There is a prevalent fatigue in Libya about justice and accountability, as well as the ability of the international community and the Court to deliver both, he continued, quoting one survivor who said: “What is justice? We keep hearing about justice; where are the results?” Stating that since the referral of the case to the Court in 2011, the types of suffering in the country have expanded, from Tarhuna to all parts of Libya, he said: “In Tripoli, in Benghazi, in Misrata, these stories resonate with force.” Recalling that, in his last briefing to the Council in April, his report highlighted a road map to deliver greater results and ensure greater transparency in his Office’s work, he said the present report sets out progress in implementing this approach, in large part through partnerships his Office is seeking to build. As a result, the Office has a regular presence in Libya for the first time since 2011.
Outlining other progress, he noted that a variety of evidentiary material has been gathered, and the promise of greater engagement has manifested in several ways, including through meetings with the Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Government officials and civil society in the Hague, Tripoli and elsewhere. As well, he spotlighted a meeting in September of a Joint Investigation Team to tackle human trafficking, including Italy, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and others. Such steps do not amount to “just ticking a box”, he emphasized, noting that in October, the team facilitated the transfer of key individuals from Ethiopia to Italy and the Netherlands, where allegations of torture and slavery will be investigated by domestic courts. “The ICC is not an apex court; it is a hub,” he stated, adding that work must be done collectively to ensure greater accountability and less space for impunity.
Outlining further activities by his Office, he announced that further applications for warrants have been confidentially submitted to the judges of the Court. The increased momentum was due to his Office’s partnership with Libya and the work of the country’s Presidential Council, which is pivotal to moving things forward. However, such cooperation is not perfect. Candid discussions have been held with Libyan authorities and the Ministry of Justice to enable progress in working together with greater complementarity. Further, he said that while meeting the Libyan military prosecutor in Benghazi and Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, he informed the latter that evidence of crimes by the Libyan National Army were being investigated, adding that such steps are vital to advance his mandate, in line with Council resolution 1970 (2011).
Returning to the poignant moment he witnessed a few days ago, where victims were sitting around a table and shedding tears “only a parent can shed”, he quoted a mother who said, “Alhamdulillah, [praise be to God], my son has gone, I accept that. I just want to know what happened and where he is. I want to bury him.” He replied to her with the words of the Quran: “From God we come, and to God, surely, we will return.” “Justice is not about power or the powerful,” he told the Council. “It is about those who want the basics — a modicum of justice for their loved ones whose lives mattered the world to them.” Achieving this is not “mission impossible, if we are willing to coalesce around human values; not just the legal norms that spring from those human values,” he stated.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) emphasized that victims must be at the centre of the work of the Office of the Prosecutor and must be provided with care and psychosocial support. Cooperation between the Office and national authorities is essential, in accordance with the principle of complementarity, he stressed, echoing the Prosecutor’s call to maintain that cooperation at the highest level with the Libyan authorities. He spotlighted the arrest and extradition of two individuals accused of human trafficking in Libya, who were detained in Ethiopia and extradited to Italy and the Netherlands. It is a positive development that the Office of the Prosecutor has become a member of the Joint Investigation Team for that type of crime, he added. He also underlined the importance of guaranteeing compliance with arrest warrants to avoid cases remaining unresolved, and voiced hope that new warrants will be issued soon considering the progress in the investigations. He underlined the importance of addressing the International Criminal Court’s budgetary requirements, stressing that the United Nations must bear the costs of the situations referred to the International Criminal Court by the Security Council. Referring situations to the Court has the potential to close impunity gaps, and makes it possible for accountability to be a reality for the victims of the most atrocious crimes, he said, affirming Mexico’s continued support of that mechanism whenever necessary, inside or outside the Council.
XING JISHENG (China) noted that the political process in Libya continues to be deadlocked, with elements of uncertainty and instability on the rise. “Political solution is the only viable option to resolve the Libyan issue,” he stressed. In this regard, he welcomed the recent resumption of dialogue between the House of Representatives and the High Council of State, expressing hope that the parties will build on this to bring the political process into a new stage. The international community should uphold the Libyan-owned and Libyan-led principle, fully respecting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country and avoiding imposing a solution from the outside. The Court should strictly adhere to the principle of complementarity under the Rome Statute, fully respect the country’s judicial sovereignty and value the legitimate demands and views of the Government concerned. He also underscored the need for making a genuine contribution to maintaining peace and stability in the country.
RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States) stressed that it is more important than ever to support and uphold justice mechanisms as the Russian Federation continues its brutal war in Ukraine. The International Criminal Court’s work in Libya is a critical element in the shared commitment to accountability, peace and security there, particularly in its efforts to prosecute those most responsible for the heinous atrocities committed against the Libyan people since February 2011. He also cited the report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission released in June, which stressed the need to urgently address the proliferation and legitimization of armed groups acting as “islands of control” outside of any State authority. The report further urged States to employ universal jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute perpetrators found on their territories. Regarding the situation in Tarhuna, he noted that the Mission found reasonable grounds to believe members of the al-Kaniyat militia committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Three possible locations of mass graves were also identified. Resolving political uncertainty and promoting accountability will go a long way to addressing the chronic instability in Libya, including the mobilization of armed groups. Calling on Libyan authorities to do more, he stressed that former senior officials of the Qadhafi regime — including Saif al-Islam Qadhafi, who is subject to an arrest warrant — must face justice. Those efforts have been pending for 11 years, he noted.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), noting that her State is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, said that the referral to the Court has had no effect in bringing about a cessation of violence or restoration of stability in Libya. The political stalemate and the subsequent mobilization of armed groups in the country have the potential to undermine the gains made since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in October 2020. “The immediate priority is to resolve all outstanding issues in arriving at a constitutional basis for holding presidential and parliamentary elections,” she stressed, adding that holding elections at the earliest opportunity in a free, fair, inclusive and credible manner is an urgent imperative. Further, she highlighted the need to send a clear message that violence in any form is condemnable and would undermine progress. The political process in Libya should be fully Libyan-led and Libyan-owned, with no imposition or external interference, she emphasized.
JAYNE JEPKORIR TOROITICH (Kenya), noting it is the foremost responsibility of a State to deliver justice and accountability to its people, reaffirmed her delegation’s support for the people of Libya in that pursuit. Citing increased interaction between the International Criminal Court and Libyan authorities, she urged that support for Libya’s national capacity in the areas of investigations, prosecution and judiciary also be increased. During the briefing on 28 April, her delegation called on the Prosecutor to provide further reporting on crimes against migrants, which may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, and she took note of the Prosecutor’s report on efforts deployed under this line of investigation. She further called for more efforts and action — especially due to the complicating extraregional interests in migration across the Mediterranean from Africa into Europe. In addition, it is important to consider how the explicit and implicit national policies of countries claiming to assist in stemming irregular migration may be continuing the indignity visited on migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. She urged Libyan authorities, the European Union and other interested parties to earnestly seek to address the push factors of migration.
ARIAN SPASSE (Albania) commended the tangible progress made during the reporting period in accelerating ongoing investigations, collection of evidence, protection of witnesses and revitalization of investigations into crimes committed in Libya between 2011 and 2021. The new strategy of the Office of the Prosecutor is paving the ground for long-awaited justice in Libya. He urged Libyan authorities to engage actively and in good faith with the Office to move the process of justice forward. The closer cooperation between UNSMIL and the Office of the Presidency Council of Libya, as well as the visit of the Chief Prosecutor on 6 November and his meeting with Minister of Justice Halima Ibrahim, are encouraging signs. Nonetheless, more is needed to produce concrete cooperation in the interest of justice. The Office of the Prosecutor needs full and secure access to the whole territory, to relevant documentation and to crime scenes, especially when key witnesses are threatened. He also called on Libyan authorities to cooperate fully with the Office of the Prosecutor, and to hand over to justice Qadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Qadhafi, so that he can stand trial in a court of law.
CHANAKA LIAM WICKREMASINGHE (United Kingdom) welcomed the tangible progress of the Office of the Prosecutor on the four key lines of inquiry. The constant presence of the Office in the region strengthened the ability to engage with witnesses and victims and deepen its knowledge and understanding of the challenge of achieving accountability. Recognizing that the report received increased support from the Libyan authorities, he encouraged that they build on this and take the key steps outlined in the report to further increase cooperation. He also welcomed the formal membership of the Office in the Joint Team investigating crimes against migrants with authorities from Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, alongside the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol). He, however, noted a complex political landscape with the ongoing executive impasse and division, which has heightened the continued risk of violence. Commending the mandate renewal of UNSMIL, he pointed out that United Nations leadership is vital to restoring Libya’s electoral footing following the failed presidential elections of December 2021.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway), expressing concern about the political situation in Libya, called on all parties to redouble efforts to agree on a constitutional framework for holding free and fair elections. She also called on the Libyan authorities, their partners and the international community to cooperate with the Prosecutor’s Office. Further, she encouraged more efforts by the Libyan authorities to provide access to evidence and prompt responses to assistance requests by that Office. Supporting the Prosecutor’s follow-up of the renewed strategy and the road map for accountability, she noted that more than 20 missions have been carried out to Libya and other countries, and its continuous presence in the region. Highlighting the arrest of two suspects of crimes against victims of human trafficking recently extradited to Italy and the Netherlands, she applauded the Court’s cooperation with other institutions and States. Turning to arrest warrants, she welcomed updates about terminations due to confirmed deaths and national proceedings, and noted that new applications are being submitted. “Accountability for the most serious crimes committed is key,” she said, adding that holding perpetrators to account is crucial for national reconciliation in Libya.
SIOBHÁN MILEY (Ireland) said that accountability for atrocity crimes should be central to Libya’s pursuit of peace and democracy. She noted with concern the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya’s report, highlighting impunity, gender-based violence and finding reasonable grounds on crimes against humanity being committed against migrants and those in detention centres. The Council’s referral of the Libyan situation to the International Criminal Court is critical for accountability for international crimes and for long-term peace and stability in the country, she said. Noting the challenging environment in which the Office of the Prosecutor operates, and the progress achieved, she welcomed the maintenance of its presence and the provision of additional resources to its investigative efforts. She commended the Office’s efforts to coordinate investigative activity with third States and international agencies, including its work with the Joint Team investigating crimes against migrants, which led to the extradition of two suspects from Ethiopia to Italy and the Netherlands. Recognizing UNSMIL’s assistance, she urged Libya to “comply with its obligation to cooperate with the Court, including in relation to the execution of the outstanding arrest warrant against Saif al-Islam Qadhafi”. Further, she called on the Libyan authorities to provide access to documentation relevant to the Office of the Prosecutor’s investigations and ensure prompt responses to its requests. Pointing to an Arria-formula meeting on strengthening the relationship between the Court and the Council, she urged States to consider ways of operationalizing the recommendations in the Chair’s summary of that meeting.
GENNADY V. KUZMIN (Russian Federation), reiterating his country’s position on the “biased and politicized activities” of the International Criminal Court, noted that the report did not show any real developments. Moreover, the report was presented to the Council on the eve of the meeting, which prevented any analysis or preparation for a substantive discussion. “Lateness and rescheduling seem to have become the habit of the Court,” he lamented. Recalling the “speedy fabrication of false accusations against Muammar Qadhafi” that served as a means for justifying the illegal bombing of Libya by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), he pointed out that “this brutal crime against a Head of State has never received any assessment of the Court”. “It is high time for the Security Council to consider correcting the mistakes of the past and potentially withdrawing the Libyan file from the ICC [International Criminal Court],” he stressed. He noted that in the current context, complaints about a lack of funds look suspect given the “colossal influx of funds” that the Court received in the guise of voluntary donations from Western States, which “have successfully sheltered their war criminals from the Court’s investigations not only in Libya, but also in Iraq and Afghanistan”.
ANNETTE ANDRÉE ONANGA (Gabon) noted the progress achieved in the investigation strategy and evidence analysis of serious crimes committed in Libya in 2011, those committed as the result of military operations from 2014 to 2020, and crimes against migrants. The constant presence of the Prosecutor in the region is another sign of progress, bolstering the capacity of investigators and including Arabic speaking experts and military logistics experts in the teams. Experts in gender and sexual crimes are further important assets in guaranteeing the principal of legality by normalizing procedures against those suspected of serious crimes. She noted that the emphasis on dialogue with victims, local communities and civil society is a positive aspect that could contribute to the success of the Court’s work in Libya. The fight against impunity must remain an imperative for all, she underlined, requiring the continued support of the international community, in order to fully equip the Prosecutor and his Office. The military-political crisis that has affected Libya for more than a decade now remains serious, and in such a climate of terror and fear, victims and witnesses can feel threatened, making the exercise of justice complex and perilous, she noted.
VINÍCIUS FOX DRUMMOND CANÇADO TRINDADE (Brazil) welcomed the increased field presence of the Office of the Prosecutor in the region, noting that it could strengthen communication lines and cooperation with national authorities, as well as provide a safe, secure and stable environment for witnesses who wish to engage directly with investigators. Such cooperation efforts can provide opportunities to strengthen local institutions, so that States can fulfil their primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in their territories. He encouraged the Prosecutor to continue engaging with Libyan authorities regularly, highlighting that complementarity is one of the cornerstones of the Rome Statute system. International criminal justice is a temporary solution when States with jurisdiction are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes. UNSMIL can also make important contributions to national authorities in the fight against impunity, employing a collaborative approach in areas of investigation. The United Nations should provide appropriate resources to the Court in relation to situations referred by the Security Council. The current situation, where only States parties cover the cost of Security Council referrals, is neither fair nor sustainable, he stressed.
DIARRA DIME LABILLE (France) said that the prosecution and sentencing of criminals are essential to the national reconciliation process and to the success of the political transition. However, the deaths of the alleged perpetrators cannot take the place of justice for victims. Welcoming the Office’s implementation in recent months of the revised investigation strategy, she noted its efforts to strengthen cooperation with the Libyan authorities. She strongly encouraged the Libyan authorities to cooperate fully with the Office, particularly with regards to access to the documentation necessary for investigations or the issuance of visas. Adding that the most serious crimes committed in Libya since 2011 must all be prosecuted, she spotlighted cooperation in this regard. Concerned about arbitrary detentions and inhuman detention conditions, she said that authorities in charge of those detention places must allow access without delay to international observers and investigators. Enforced disappearances and sexual violence are equally unacceptable and subject to prosecution. In addition, she voiced concern over increased repressions against civil society and pressure on magistrates. The full implementation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement is essential for the stabilization of the country. A viable solution to the Libyan conflict requires the formation of a unified executive branch capable of governing over the entire territory of the country. “Elections are the only way to restore lasting and indisputable political legitimacy”, she said.
SUOOD RASHED ALI ALWALI ALMAZROUEI (United Arab Emirates), underscoring the national prerogative of States, stressed that cooperation with the relevant national authorities in Libya must be continued and strengthened through meetings and contacts. This will enable the relevant actors to take concrete steps at the national level and contribute to the existing efforts. Turning to the investigation of crimes committed against migrants, he stressed the need for investigations to be carried out with the proactive cooperation of the national Libyan authorities, while supporting their local efforts. He also commended the recent arrest of two suspects involved in smuggling individuals from Africa to Europe through Libya and underscored the importance of continuing international cooperation in dismantling the networks of transnational organized crime, including in countries of origin, destination, and transit. Recalling that compliance with the principle of complementarity under the Rome Statute requires respect for the views and positions of the State concerned, he emphasized that achieving accountability and transitional justice is among the sovereign jurisdictions of States.
CAROLYN ABENA ANIMA OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana), Council President for November, speaking in her national capacity, joined the Office of the Prosecutor’s call to competent Libyan authorities to provide access to relevant documentation, support engagement with technical authorities and ensure prompt responses to all requests for assistance submitted by the Office. They must also ensure prompt responses to all visa applications. She noted the Office of the Prosecutor has taken measures to empower victims, witnesses and affected communities through an enhanced presence in the region, the use of remote screenings and interviews and by strengthening its ability to interface with victim groups and civil society organizations. On the trafficking of persons, illegal detention and mistreatment of migrants, she noted ongoing close cooperation with other countries and agencies led to the recent arrest and extradition of two key suspects of crimes against migrants and refugees from Ethiopia to the Netherlands and Italy. Thanking the United Kingdom, Europol and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), among others for their support, she called on the competent Libyan authorities to respect the human rights of migrants and protect them in accordance with international law.
TAHER M. T. ELSONNI (Libya) said that Prosecutor Khan’s important visit to his country will strengthen cooperation between the Libyan Public Prosecutor and the International Criminal Court. He reaffirmed Libya’s commitment to holding accountable and punishing perpetrators of crimes and violations under its national law no matter the challenges, highlighting that achieving justice on Libyan territory is a sovereign and national jurisdiction. The Libyan judiciary is committed to guaranteeing a fair trial to all suspects, no matter how long it takes, he added. Libya’s cooperation with the Court according to its mandate is based on the Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of the Libyan Public Prosecutor and the International Criminal Court, he said, stressing that it complements and does not replace the Libyan judiciary. The search for and identification of missing persons in Tarhuna continues to uncover further graves, he said, noting that the Libyan Public Prosecutor issued arrest warrants against perpetrators of those crimes and was able to arrest a number of them. However, the main challenge is arresting those in hiding or those who fled Libya, he stressed, calling on Prosecutor Khan to issue arrest warrants against those individuals or anyone supporting them or providing them with shelter.
He went on to say that the Libyan Public Prosecutor’s Office is following up on cases of criminal acts against migrants, including the incident in Subrata and the deliberate killing of a number of migrants by human traffickers and smugglers. The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Interior were able to arrest perpetrators within 48 hours of the incident and investigations are ongoing. However, he noted he was puzzled by the international community’s focus on Libya with respect to those involved in human trafficking, which is an international network that is transnational. Confronting that phenomenon must start with eliminating those networks and their leaders and imposing sanctions on them, whether in the origin and transit countries in Africa or in destination countries in Europe, without exception. The Libyan people are keen to build a modern civic State. That can only be achieved by a comprehensive national reconciliation, which begins with justice, uncovering and telling the truth, offering apologies and reparation, acknowledging the suffering of victims’ families, clarifying the fate of all missing since 2011, and restoring trust in State institutions. He called on the Court to accelerate the uncovering of results of its investigations and all cases under consideration in Libya, and to identify those involved whether individuals, entities or States. He further called on countries that are politicizing the file to stop doing so and to support the Libyan judiciary.
Mr. KHAN, taking the floor a second time and responding to several delegates’ comments that resolution 1970 (2011) did not have transformative effect, said: “I wish it was so easy that a resolution could usher in peace and security.” However, he pointed out that it is not possible to know how much worse things could have gotten without the Security Council’s referral of the case to the Court. Despite the limitations of political and diplomatic initiatives, focus and determination are required to bend the arc towards legality, justice and progress. Regarding several comments about the late distribution of the report, he said his team transmitted it by the stipulated time but will look into what occurred so delegates are not inconvenienced in the future. Responding to a comment on the Office’s resources, he pointed out that its trust fund of €15 million is for all cases, including the situation in Libya. In that regard, his Office is not “obsessed” with any situation, he said, adding that it is committed to discharging its mandate in ensuring justice for people such as the mother and father he mentioned.
On questions about human trafficking, he said there is a convergence between human trafficking and slavery crimes, which is why his Office has appointed a special adviser on slavery. Concurring with the comment by the representative of Libya, he said human trafficking is a global phenomenon and that Libya is being used as a transit point, resulting in many Africans being subjected to torture, rape and slavery, including sexual slavery. Noting that slavery is an erga omnes crime, he stressed the need to look into the pernicious issue in a holistic way. The law can help ensure compliance; there is no binary choice in resolving constitutional issues and legality. While recognizing that politics is everywhere, he stressed the need for everyone to find humanity, humility, to not be self-indulgent and to ask what can be done for the men and women of Libya, who have suffered too much, in line with resolution 1970 (2011). “Justice is not a talk shop; it must be felt by the people who need it the most,” he stressed.
* The 9185th & 9186th Meetings were closed.