By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 13 November 2014:
“Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi must be turned over to the International Criminal Court (ICC),” was the . . .[restrict]consensus as multiple speakers addressed the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefed the Security Council, informing it that investigations have been impeded by instability in Libya.
“I cannot stress enough the deleterious impact that the unstable political and security situation in Libya has had and continues to have on my investigations,” Fatou Bensouda said.
“While my office remains steadfast in its commitment to continue to pursue its mandate in Libya, the security situation has significantly hampered our ability to effectively investigate in the country,” she added.
In addition to instability, the ICC investigation has been hampered by a lack of resources, said Bensouda.
“We have been obliged to scale down resources for investigations in the country, in effect limiting our ability to investigate, amongst others, new instances of mass crimes allegedly committed by the rebel forces,” she said.
In speaking of new crimes, Bensouda named assassinations in Benghazi and threats to media workers, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, human rights defenders and women in particular. She added that an “alarming number of people in detention reportedly lack access to due process and may be subject to torture and death in custody.”
A key point according to Bensouda was the lack of compliance on the part of the Libyan government to hand over Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi, currently being held in Zintan. She demanded that he be surrendered to the ICC immediately.
Bensouda said that if the Security Council and the ICC do not act on these issues it would undermine the credibility of both institutions.
The Legal Counsellor to the UK Mission to the UN also echoed the demand that Libya comply with the order to hand over Saif Al-Islam.
She stressed that there had to be justice for the Libyan people and called for an end to impunity. She said that stability in a nation was dependent on criminals being held accountable for their actions.
“Individuals who have committed atrocities must be held accountable for their actions. There must be no impunity for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is also important that those who have committed human rights abuses in the ongoing fighting should face justice. It is vital that Libya’s future is built upon a firm foundation that protects and promotes human rights for all,” she said.
She added: “The United Kingdom will continue to support efforts to bring about a sustainable peace in Libya. An important part of these efforts must be holding perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to account. There must be justice for the Libyan people who have been the victims of atrocities.”
Both she and Bensouda called for an end to any targeting of civilians or civilians institutions in the current armed conflict.
Libya’s UN ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said that Libya was committed to the pursuit of justice. “But as you know, in any country justice is linked to security and security is linked to the authority of the state … over all its territory. Unfortunately that is not the case in Libya today.”
The Libyan government was not disclaiming its obligations in terms of justice, Dabbashi said, but the international community needed to be alert to the difficulties it faced in meeting those obligations, especially in the parts of the country that it did not control.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement yesterday, adding its voice to those calling for Libya to hand Saif Al-Islam over to the ICC and for justice for victims of crimes in Libya.
HRW was likewise firm in stating that impunity leads to lawlessness and instability.
“Turning a blind eye to justice has been a main driver for the country’s current instability,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director at HRW. “Inaction domestically in the face of mounting crimes has contributed to a culture of impunity and has helped set the stage for the militia lawlessness in Libya today,” he added.
HRW stressed that accountability for crimes had to be a key component in the dialogue process, stressing that its research had shown that in many countries “the failure to hold those responsible for the most serious international crimes to account can fuel future abuses”.
The human rights organisation has been documenting other crimes since the revolution that could be considered war crimes and are violations of international law. These include arbitrary detentions, torture, forced displacement (such as that of the Tawergha) and unlawful killings. HRW called on the ICC to investigate these crimes as well.
“Many of these violations are sufficiently organized and widespread to amount to crimes against humanity,” the statement read. [/restrict]