Libya should not grant amnesty [statement] for war crimes committed on either side of the country's uprising against former leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Wednesday. In her statement to the UN Security Council [official website], Bensouda acknowledged the possibility that key Libyan war crimes suspects Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi [JURIST news archives] could be tried in Libyan courts rather than the ICC if Libya succeeds in its challenge to ICC jurisdiction [JURIST report]. She encouraged Libyan authorities to take a stance against war criminals, regardless of which side of the revolution the perpetrator supported:
My Office takes note of Law 38, granting amnesty at the national level for "acts made necessary by the 17 February revolution"; as well as Law 35, which purportedly ensures that any act found to be in contravention of international laws and human rights covenants will not be exempt. I encourage the new Libyan government, scheduled to be sworn in in the coming days, to ensure that there is no amnesty for international crimes and no impunity for crimes, regardless of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim.The prosecutor's office will continue its investigation of other allegations relating to the events and the aftermath of the 2011 revolution. Bensouda says she will decide the direction these other possible cases in the near future.
The dispute over who will try key Libyan war criminals has strained relations between Libya and the ICC. In October, Amnesty International urged the Libyan government to hand over Al-Senussi to the ICC [JURIST report], expressing concern that he could not receive a fair trial in a national court. Earlier that month Libyan officials, in a hearing before the ICC, promised a fair trial for Gaddafi's son [JURIST report], Saif al-Islam, and urged the court to allow a national trial. Saif al-Islam said in August that he would prefer a trial in the ICC [JURIST report] because he felt he could not get a fair trial in Libya. In June four ICC staff members who traveled to Libya to speak with Saif al-Islam were detained [JURIST report] by Libyan security forces. They were in custody for nearly four weeks. Upon her release [JURIST report], ICC lawyer Melinda Taylor said she did not believe Saif al-Islam would receive a fair trial in the country.