[JURIST] International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] on Thursday urged [statement] the government of Libya to address serious crimes committed in the country and encouraged the international community to end the impunity gap in Libya. Bensouda welcomed gains in Libya’s legal system that would eliminate rape but voiced concern for detainees in the country. She stated:
Libya has come a long way since the 2011 uprising, which paved the way for the Libyan people to rebuild their country towards a more promising future. The new Libya has had notable successes, including the holding of the first democratic elections in half a century, but the country still faces formidable challenges. The security situation in Libya remains volatile and precarious as marked by car bombings, abductions and assassinations of public and security officials. This unfortunate fact has understandably hampered my Office’s ability to operate in Libya in furtherance of its investigative activities. We hope that the security situation in Libya will improve to enable my Office to effectively follow up and intensify its investigations. My Office welcomes initiatives aimed at helping to rebuild Libya’s military and law enforcement agencies to reinforce security for Libya and all Libyans. We call upon all States to assist Libya in its efforts to become a fully-fledged, secure, democratic society that adheres to the highest standards of justice. The Libyan people deserve no less.
Bensouda also urged Libya’s government to surrender Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] to the ICC and encouraged Libya to ensure that Abdullah al-Senussi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] receives a fair, impartial trial in Libya. She also stated that there are other criminals inside Libya who continue to destabilize the country and that neither the ICC nor Libya could investigate and prosecute all perpetrators. Bensouda stated that joint complementary efforts of Libya and the ICC, supported by other nations, would be crucial to ending that impunity.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and al-Senussi have also faced charges of crimes against humanity before the ICC. About 30 aides to Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary], including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, were indicted in late October by a Libyan court for a list of offenses allegedly committed during the 2011 revolt [JURIST backgrounder] in the country. The charges levied against them include murder, kidnapping, complicity in incitement to rape, plunder, sabotage, embezzlement of public funds and acts harmful to national unity. Last month the ICC ruled [JURST report] that the case against al-Senussi was inadmissible before the ICC and could only be heard by domestic courts in Libya, but noted that the decision did not affect the issue with regards to the charges against al-Islam Gaddafi. The ICC’s decision marked the most recent development in a legal battle between Libya and the ICC [JURIST op-ed] regarding al-Senussi and al-Islam Gaddafi. The two men were also charged with murder [JURIST report] by Libya’s prosecutors in August. A month earlier, the ICC rejected [JURIST report] the country’s request to suspend an order to hand over al-Islam Gaddafi to face the international charges. In June al-Islam Gaddafi’s lawyer accused Libyan officials [JURIST report] of defying the ICC by announcing that his domestic trial would begin in August despite the ICC’s attempts to have him extradited. The order demanding Libya to extradite al-Senussi [JURIST report] to face charges of crimes against humanity was made by the ICC in February.