The UN Security Council [official website] on Sunday demanded the immediate release [press release] of a group of four staff members from the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] detained in Libya earlier this month. The Security Council noted that Libya has a legal obligation under Resolution 1970 (2011) [PDF] to "cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor." Among the detainees is Melinda Taylor, an Australian lawyer working for the ICC. A representative for the Libyan courts said that Taylor and her colleagues attempted to smuggle documents [Radio Australia report] to Muammar Gaddafi's [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] son Saif al-Islam from his former aide. The issue of which court is going to try al-Islam has been a point of contention between Libya and the ICC since he was captured [JURIST report] by Libyan rebel forces in November. Libyan authorities have reportedly refused to release [NYT report] Taylor, but have given two of the other three detainees permission to leave. The two freed staff members have allegedly chosen to stay in support of their fellow ICC employees. A judicial source in Libya has said authorities may continue to detain the ICC staff for up to 45 days [JURIST report].
The Presidents of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website] and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] this week joined the ICC in calling for the immediate release [JURIST report] of four staff members. The Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs reported that on Tuesday three officials from the ICC and the Australian ambassador to Libya were able to visit [JURIST report] and assess the condition of the four ICC staff members. A spokesperson for the ICC said earlier on Tuesday that the Libyan government had failed to explain [JURIST report] why the four ICC staff members were detained, and that their continued detention is a violation of international law. Earlier this month, a pre-trial chamber of the ICC granted a request by the Libyan government to postpone an order to transfer Saif al-Islam to ICC custody, after the Libyan government formally challenged [JURIST reports] the right of the ICC to try Saif al-Islam last month. In April, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the ICC to report Libya to the UN Security Council [JURIST report] for failing to turn over Saif al-Islam. Libya expressly denied [JURIST report] the ICC's request for such action and stated that Saif al-Islam will face trial within the country.