During the UN Security Council Meeting on the Libyan Situation on Nov 5th, Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bom Bensouda said her office at the International Criminal Court is analyzing evidence on alleged crimes against migrants in Libya.
It’s been nearly 10 years since the International Criminal Court opened its investigation into the war crimes and crimes against humanity that took place during the fall of the late Col. Muammar Gadaffi in 2011. In her testimony, Bensouda mentioned recent acts of violence, including the bombing of the Tajoura Migrant Detention Centre in East Tripoli that killed 53 people and injured 130. She described the situation as the “implosion of Libya”, citing the work of UN Special Representative for Libya, Ghassan Salamé, who reported in September that conflict this year has led to over 100 civilian deaths, over 300 injured and 120,000 displaced persons in Libya. Salamé has said that sending refugees and migrants to detention centers like Tajoura places them in “extreme danger.”
At this time, Bensouda said the ICC is already assisting other states with the investigation and prosecution of the alleged crimes against migrants. Bensouda did not provide further detail about the investigations, but acknowledged that the ICC might take further action. “We are assessing the viability of bringing cases before the ICC in relation to migrant-related crimes in Libya based on this evidence-driven process.” said Bensouda.
The ICC has issued warrants for the arrest of Gadaffi’s son, Saif Al-Islam Gadaffi, as well as two military officials, Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli, who served in the Al-Saiqa Brigade and Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, an alleged former Lieutenant General of Libyan Army and former head of the Libyan Internal Security Agency (ISA). Bensouda said the whereabouts of these individuals are likely in Egypt and Libya, but they have remained at large for years. The individuals are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Next week, the ICC Appeals Chamber will review Gadaffi’s appeal in a hearing. Gadaffi’s challenge of the case was rejected earlier this year. Gadaffi was imprisoned for six years until his release in 2017. In her testimony, Prosecutor Bensouda called upon the Libyan government to arrest Gadaffi.
Security Council members echoed some of Bensouda’s remarks in their testimony. Many called for the immediate surrender of the individuals at large, affirmed their support for investigations and condemned violence against migrants as possible violations of international law. France, Germany, and the US called for a cease-fire agreement. Côte d’Ivoire urged for a return to political dialogue that would permanently “silence the guns” in Libya.
Prosecutor Bensouda recognized the support and cooperation of the Prosecutor General of Libya and of several other countries, including Italy. She reminded Security Council members that bringing those responsible for war crimes “facilitates a coveted outcome.” She asked that the suspects “surrender to the court of law,” so that the “truth could be established.”
Elmahdi S. Emajerbispoke, a representative of Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord, spoke at the end of the meeting, asking for the focus on Libya to be sustained as it takes steps to keep civilians safe. “The GNA hopes the Council will consider the Libyan situation as a priority,” he said, “It should not be sidelined.”