Monday, 17/2/2020 | 4:01 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

ICC prosecutor deplores impasse over arrest and surrender of Libyan fugitives

UNITED NATIONS The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, deplored the long-standing impasse over the arrest and surrender of three Libyans wanted by the court.

Arrest warrants remain outstanding against Mahmoud al-Werfalli, the commander of an elite unit of the Libyan National Army; Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the second son of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi; and Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, the former head of the Libyan Internal Security Agency during the final years of the government of Muammar Gaddafi.

Failure to arrest and surrender persons against whom warrants of arrest have been issued can result in real harm, Bensouda told the Security Council in a briefing.

The negative effects of such failure are starkly illustrated by the case of Al-Werfalli, said the chief prosecutor.

Despite the ICC warrant of arrest against him for the war crime of murder in relation to 33 people, Al-Werfalli remains at liberty and allegedly murdered another 10 victims just five months after the ICC arrest warrant was issued, she said.

Today, two warrants for his arrest remain outstanding. The fact that Mr. Al-Werfalli is in Libya is well-known. He is not detained and there is no evidence that he has been genuinely prosecuted in Libya by his superiors in the Libyan National Army.

The failure to arrest these suspects jeopardizes the ongoing investigations of the ICC. It sends a message to victims that alleged perpetrators can evade justice and continue to commit crimes with impunity. It deters witnesses from coming forward and putting their confidence in the ICC, and places them in unnecessary danger, said Bensouda.

In the long run, this lack of accountability undermines respect for the rule of law and impedes progress toward stability and security in Libya, she warned.

Ultimately, the execution of these arrest warrants depends on the cooperation of states. Regrettably, securing state cooperation in the arrest and surrender of suspects remains one of the greatest challenges faced by the ICC, she said. The court's performance cannot be divorced from this reality. The court's success largely depends on the effective and concrete cooperation of states.

Saif Gaddafi has recently lost his challenge to the ICC over the admissibility of his case, said Bensouda. Gaddafi has filed an appeal. But Libya remains under an obligation to arrest and surrender Gaddafi to the ICC irrespective of the current admissibility proceedings, said Bensouda.