By Tyler Yates
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants today for Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and Abdullah al-Senussi for crimes against humanity that allegedly occurred across Libya from 15 February 2011 until at least 28 February 2011.
Specifically, the three are charged for the implementation of state policy to deter and quell, by any means, including by deadly force, demonstrations against the Gaddafi regime. Libyan Security Forces, under Gaddafi’s command, attacked, killed or injured as well as arrested and imprisoned hundreds of civilians and alleged dissidents throughout Libya during the time in question.
The ICC’s decision to issue the warrants comes after a unanimous adoption of Resolution 1970 by the United Nations Security Council on 26 February 2011. The resolution, which referred the situation in Libya to the ICC Prosecutor, stressed the need to hold accountable those responsible for the brutal attacks against the Libyan citizens. It decided “the Libyan authorities shall cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor pursuant to the resolution.” The Security Council also urged all States and concerned regional and international organizations to cooperate fully with the ICC.
The ICC Prosecutor undertook a preliminary investigation, and it was concluded on 3 March 2011 that the crimes committed in Libya fell within the ICC’s jurisdiction, and that further investigation into the matter was necessary. On 16 May 2011 the ICC Prosecutor requested the issuance of the three warrants that were finally approved today by Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC.
The ICC issued the warrants because it believes there is sufficient evidence that the men did commit the crimes in question, and that their arrest is necessary to ensure their appearance before the court; to stop them from obstructing and endangering the Court’s investigations; and to prevent them from continuing to commit crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction.
Rebels in Eastern Libya welcomed news of the warrants. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the opposition’s Interim Transitional National Council, said the warrants will further their efforts to end Gaddafi’s more than 40-year rule.
The ICC has no police force of its own so it up to national authorities to make arrests on its behalf. Resolution 1970 requires Libya to cooperate with the ICC and the opposition’s Interim Transitional National Council has promised as much to the ICC Prosecutor.
Human Rights Watch points out that the ICC’s work on bringing to justice those who commit crimes against humanity in Libya is distinct from any other military or diplomatic initiatives currently taking place, and that it would be a mistake to conflate them or identify the ICC as anything other than an independent body.
For more information, please see:
Human Rights Watch — Libya: Warrants Send Strong Message to Abusive Leaders — 27 June 2011
International Criminal Court — Pre-Trial Chamber I issues three warrants of arrest for Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdulla Al-Senussi – 27 June 2011
New York Times — Hague Court Issues War Crimes Warrant for Qaddafi — 27 June 2011
Voice of America — Eastern Libyans Welcome ICC Charges Against Gaddafi — 27 June 2011