International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan Thursday revealed a new four-pronged investigation strategy for the ongoing investigation into the situation in Libya to the UN Security Council.
The ICC investigation focuses on alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Libya since protests erupted against Muammar Gaddafi’s government in February 2011. The investigation also includes three unexecuted arrest warrants issued by the ICC. The ICC began its investigation in March 2011. Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute. Therefore, the ICC derives its jurisdiction for this investigation from a unanimous reference by the Security Council.
In March 2022, the Office for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern over the “deepening crackdown” on civil society in Libya, including arbitrary arrests and vilification campaigns on social media. The OHCHR noted a “seriously chilling effect” on human rights defenders, humanitarian workers and other civil society actors. The UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya found in its March 2022 report that international human rights and humanitarian law are being violated in Libya.
The new investigation strategy unveiled by the ICC prosecutor places emphasis on survivors. First, it prioritizes referrals made by the Security Council by allowing additional resources and increased financial support, especially for investigations of sexual and gender-based crimes. The prosecutor’s office also relies on new technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning to speed up investigations.
The second pillar is empowering witnesses and survivors to enable their participation in the investigation process. The prosecutor seeks to work with the Libyan state wherever possible and establish an enhanced regional presence in Libya.
The third pillar is to improve engagement with Libyan national authorities. The prosecutor highlighted that the Rome Statute, founded on the principle of complementarity, requires his office to support national accountability efforts. However, if national authorities seem unwilling or unable to carry on investigations, his office would continue its work. The prosecutor hopes to create a more systematic and structured approach for working with Libyan authorities, including devising a Memorandum of Understanding.
The fourth pillar is to increase avenues for responsibility through better cooperation with third States, international and regional organizations, including the UN Special Mission in Libya and the Secretary-General Special Adviser on Libya.
The ICC prosecutor concluded by stating that cooperation is a “two-way street” and that his office will be a recipient of cooperation and contribute to national accountability processes.