International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] announced Thursday that he will investigate allegations of crimes against humanity [BBC video] by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his inner circle. According to Moreno-Ocampo, "the office of the prosecutor decided to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in Libya" based on reports of brutal treatment of "peaceful demonstrators" by Libyan security forces dating back to February 15. Moreno-Ocampo specifically identified Gaddafi, his sons and his political allies as targets of the investigation and warned Libyan officials that complicity in such abuses would result in prosecution. "In the coming weeks, the office will investigate who are the most responsible for the most egregious incidents," and ICC judges will issue warrants for parties implicated in the probe, said Moreno-Ocampo. "This is a court of justice. Judges will decide." The Rome Statute [text] enables the ICC to proceed with an investigation unless the crimes committed do not fall under the court's jurisdiction. UN Security Council [official website] Resolution 1970 [text] gives the ICC jurisdiction over the current situation in Libya.
On Saturday, the UN Security Council voted unanimously [press release] to impose sanctions [JURIST report] on Gaddafi, marking the first unanimous referral to the ICC in UN history. Resolution 1970 also received support from Libya's delegation itself, which renounced Gaddafi on Friday [Reuters report]. The UN General Assembly voted Tuesday to suspend Libya [JURIST report] from the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] in response to the violent suppression of peaceful protesters by forces loyal to Gaddafi. According to a statement issued by the court Monday, the ICC will not grant immunity [JURIST report] to any person perpetrating crimes against humanity in Libya.