ICC prosecutor renews call for arrest of Libya military officer

ICC prosecutor renews call for arrest of Libya military officer

International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] renewed her calls [statement] to the Libyan government on Wednesday for the immediate arrest and surrender of Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli, who is alleged to have participated in war crimes in Libya. Specifically, al-Werfalli is suspected of directly participating in seven incidents involving the deaths of 33 individuals. Stating that Libya has the primary responsibility to arrest al-Werfalli and surrender him to the custody of the ICC, Bensouda urged Libya authorities to “use all means in their reach to do so immediately.” Bensouda expressed further concerns regarding conflicting reports about the arrest of al-Werfalli. On the one hand, the Libyan National Army (LNA) released an official statement saying that it has arrested al-Werfalli and has placed him under investigation. On the other hand, Bensouda said that she received directly contradictory reports of al-Werfalli being still at large and involved in additional killings. Bensouda expressed her grave concern about:

these new allegations, and generally about further violent loss of life in Libya, irrespective of the status of the perpetrators or their affiliation. … Mr al-Werfalli stands accused of serious crimes. I therefore again call on Libya to take all possible steps to immediately arrest and surrender him to the ICC. I also invite the LNA to demonstrate its stated support for the Court by working with the Libyan authorities to facilitate Mr al-Werfalli’s immediate surrender to the ICC so that his guilt or innocence can be established before the Court’s judges, with full respect for his due process rights.

On a closing note, Bensouda also appealed all UN Member States, including those of the UN Security Council [official website], to aid Libya in its efforts to arrest and surrender al-Werfalli to ICC without delay.

Last month, Bensouda issued her first statement [text] calling for the immediate arrest and surrender of al-Werfalli, following the issuance of an arrest warrant. This statement reiterates that call. Libya has remained politically unstable since the 2011 deposition of Muammar Gaddafi [Britannica profile] and subsequent civil war [JURIST backgrounder]. In July the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] expressed concerns [JURIST report] that the Libyan National Army has committed and will continue to commit summary executions of men that have been taken prisoner. In November Bensouda informed [JURIST report] the Security Council that the ICC wants to significantly expand investigations in Libya in 2017. The ICC began work [ICC materials] in Libya in 2011 to investigate crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution. In September 2016 the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore [official profile], spoke on the deteriorating human rights situation [JURIST report] in Libya and called for accountability and reform. In May of last year Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported [JURIST report] that Islamic State militants had executed 49 people in the Libyan city of Sirte since seizing control in February 2015. In February 2016 the UN released a report detailing a “litany of violations and abuses” being committed by both state and non-state actors in Libya that may amount to war crimes [JURIST report].