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As Libya continued to be consumed by multiple conflicts, with innocent civilians bearing the brunt of the fighting, the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Court would seek to expand its efforts in the strife-filled country, the Chief Prosecutor told the Security Council today.
Briefing the 15-nation body, Fatou Bensouda said the Prosecutor’s Office would be aiming to significantly expand investigations in 2017 and bring charges for recent instances of alleged serious criminal activity falling under the Court’s jurisdiction.
Still, her Office could not accomplish its goals acting alone. As the Council had referred the situation in Libya to her Office, she had decided to allocate additional resources from within her budget to the Libya situation. Yet, without the Council’s support that allocation would come at the expense of investigations of other crimes. She appealed to the Council to support financial assistance by the United Nations for Libya investigations in 2017.
Because such expansion of work required a coordinated approach and joint efforts by all concerned, she highlighted that the Office’s investigative efforts had greatly benefited from the operational investigative support from the Libyan Prosecutor-General’s Office. Regional States, including Tunisia and Jordan, had also continued to cooperate, she said, urging all States that had not responded to requests for assistance to do so without delay.
Turning to the case of Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi, she said that from available information, Mr. Qadhafi remained in Zintan and was still outside the custody of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord. She called once again on the Libyan authorities to ensure they do everything possible to have Mr. Qadhafi transferred to the Court. As for the case of Abduallah Al-Senusishe, she said that no new facts had arisen, which negated the basis on which the Pre-Trial Chamber had found Mr. Al-Senussi’s case inadmissible before the Court.
Following Ms. Bensouda’s briefing, Council members took the floor to express continued support for the work of the Prosecutor’s Office in Libya as well as concern over ongoing suffering of civilians at the hand of Libyan factions, Islamic State in Iraq/the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and other armed groups. Noting the difficulties of ensuring accountability for such abuses in the perilous security environment, some speakers called for consideration of new strategies to pursue investigations in that regard.
Most speakers called on the national authorities to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in its request to hand over Mr. Qadhafi and to deal with the cases of other figures from the previous regime. Many urged progress in the investigation of conditions of detention in the country, with some noting that an individual accused of torture had been re-instated in his prison position. Also stressed by members was the need for close cooperation in all areas between the Court and the Government of National Accord, as well as the need for support for the Court’s activities by other States, whether or not they were parties to the Rome Statute.
The representative of the Russian Federation, however, saw little purpose to the Court’s activities in Libya and voiced doubt as to the Court’s desire for serious dialogue with the Council, given that the Prosecutor’s report had been received only last night. Also regrettable was the Office continuing to remove itself from the issue of civilian deaths from the 2011 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) strikes. Given the withdrawal from the Rome Statute by several States, he said he doubted any new cases could be brought by the Court in Libya or elsewhere.
Other Council members, addressing the withdrawals from the Rome Statute, expressed full support to the Court’s role in ending impunity for atrocity crimes around the world. Senegal’s representative, Council President for November, spoke in his national capacity, calling for dialogue and cooperation between all States parties and the Court, particularly States parties in Africa. He also urged the Court to heed African concern and urged those considering withdrawal to work out problems in dialogue
The representative of Libya, addressing the Council, stressed that the Government of National Accord would continue to cooperate with the Prosecutor’s Office. He expressed hope that the security situation would improve so that communication between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Libyan Prosecutor-General’s Office could function at a level that allowed full pursuit of justice and the promotion of human rights in the country.
Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Egypt, Spain, Japan, Angola, Malaysia, China, United States, New Zealand, Uruguay, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and adjourned at 4:45 p.m.
FATOU BENSOUDA, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said her Office had sent a request with the Pre-Trial Chamber on 26 April for an order directing the Registry to transmit a request to Al-‘Ajami al’Atiri for the arrest and surrender of Saif al-Islam Qadhafi. On 2 June, the Pre-Trial Chamber had ordered the Registry to communicate with the Libyan authorities as to whether the request for arrest and surrender could be served directly on Mr. al’Atiri.
She went on to say that her Office was awaiting the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision on the next steps. From available information, Mr. Qadhafi remained in Zintan and was still outside the custody of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord. She called once again on the Libyan authorities to ensure they do everything possible to have Mr. Qadhafi transferred to the Court.
Regarding the case of Abdullah al-Senussi, she said that her Office awaited the full report of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on the conduct of the domestic trial. No new facts had arisen, which negated the basis on which the Pre-Trial Chamber had found Mr. al-Senussi’s case inadmissible before the Court.
She said the situation in Libya continued to deteriorate and innocent civilians continued to bear the brunt of the fighting. The country was consumed by multiple conflicts and serious crimes were being committed, including by Da’esh, Ansar Al-Sharia and other parties. The number of internally displaced persons was believed to be almost 350,000. The persistent instability and armed conflict had prevented her Office from conducting investigations within Libyan territory.
She noted that the Prosecutor’s Office would be aiming to significantly expand investigations in 2017 and bring charges for recent instances of alleged serious criminal activity falling under the Court’s jurisdiction. Her Office intended to apply for new warrants of arrest under seal, she said, adding she hoped to serve those warrants in the near future. However, her Office could not accomplish its goals acting alone. It required a coordinated approach and joint efforts by all concerned. In October, her Office had brought together judicial and investigative agencies from several States, which resulted in an agreement that the Office would work with those States to investigate alleged crimes related to illegal migration.
The Office’s investigative efforts had greatly benefitted from the operational investigative support from the Libyan Prosecutor-General’s Office, she continued. Regional States, including Tunisia and Jordan, had also continued to cooperate. She urged all States that had not responded to requests for assistance to do so without delay.
As the Council had referred the situation in Libya to her Office, she had decided to allocate additional resources from within her budget to the Libya situation. Without the Council’s support, that allocation would come at the expense of investigations of other crimes. She appealed to the Council to support financial assistance by the United Nations for Libya investigations in 2017.
HELEN MULVEIN (United Kingdom), affirming the International Criminal Court’s vital role in Libya, expressed deep concern that civilians continued to suffer abuses from factions and from Islamic State in Iraq/the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). She condemned the latter’s barbaric crimes and stressed that the rule of law must apply in Libya. Her country would continue to work with Libya to face that challenge and others. Calling once again for Mr. Qadhafi to be handed over without delay, she noted with concern, in regards to the investigation of torture in detention facilities, reports that an individual accused of such abuse had returned to his position. Cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Office and Libyan authorities was vital. In regards to financial constraints, she expressed respect for the Prosecutor’s judgement in putting resources where they were most effective and pledged her country’s engagement on the issue.
ALEXIS LAMEK (France) reaffirmed his support for the Office’s work in Libya, as much remained to be done to ensure the end of impunity there. However, he urged that security be kept constantly under consideration when activities were decided upon. Recalling that the Court’s investigation required full cooperation with Libyan authorities, States in the region and with regional organizations, he welcomed explorations of new means of mutual support. He called for the expeditious hand-over of Mr. Qadhafi and pledged his country’s further review of the case of Mr. al-Senussi. Noting the report on terrorist abuses in the country, he added that the security situation in Libya required a constant search for new strategies to ensure that accountability could occur.
SEIF ALLA YOUSSEF KANDEEL (Egypt) underlined the need for continuous cooperation between the Libyan authorities, as well as the need for assistance to that Government to help it restore the rule of law. In investigating the crimes of ISIL and other groups, he stressed that the Court must respect the principle of complementarity and coordinate with international action against terrorism. Emphasizing that relevant memorandums of understandings and other agreements must be heeded in the case of Mr. Qadhafi, he pledged his country’s cooperation with the Prosecutor’s Office in supporting the fulfilment of her mandate.
FRANCISCO JAVIER GASSO MATOSES (Spain), paying tribute to the Chief Prosecutor’s work, underlined the obligation of the Libyan Government of National Accord to hand over Mr. Qadhafi as soon as conditions allowed. In regards to the investigations of torture in prisons, he expressed concern that the individual accused of such abuse had returned to his post. Acknowledging security difficulties, he supported the request that the Council appeal to all Libyan parties to guarantee safety for the Office’s activities. All States, whether they acceded to the Rome Statute or not, had the obligation to cooperate with the Court, he stressed, welcoming the actions of Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt in that regard. Emphasizing the need to cooperate with local justice systems as well, he called on all parties to work to facilitate the Office’s work.
TAKESHI AKAHORI (Japan) said more States should join the International Criminal Court to ensure that it could effectively promote the rule of law. Expressing concern about recent decisions by some African States to withdraw from the Court, he pointed out that the Court and its States parties should listen to concerns about its role in order to secure support and cooperation from a greater number of States. On Libya, he noted that Mr. Saif al-Islam Qadhafi remained outside the Court’s custody, voicing hope that with the improving situation, the Court would be able to play a greater role in fighting impunity and serving justice. Reiterating the importance of forming a representative, united Libyan Government, he said Japan would continue to support ongoing efforts to promote the political process by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UNSMIL and the Government of National Accord.
JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola) said the political situation in Libya remained critical, despite efforts of the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord. He appealed to all to cooperate with those efforts to improve the security situation, economic crisis, and the growth of terrorist groups. Armed groups were acting with total impunity. Migrants and refugees were being victimized by abuse such as summary executions, detainment, sexual abuse and forced labour, which were violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The conditions for a judicial process were non-existent in the country, which was the reason why the Court was involved. Welcoming the signing of the Misrata-Tawergha Agreement on the Return of the Displaced and Compensation for those Affected, he strongly encouraged more initiatives of that kind.
EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said there had not been any substantial changes for the better. The main issue was the fragmentation of the country. The composition of the Government of National Accord had not been confirmed by the House of Representatives. The fight against terrorism was disorganized. Noting that the Prosecutor’s Office’s report had been received only last night, he said he doubted the Court’s desire for serious dialogue with the Council. Furthermore, the Office continued to remove itself from the issue of civilian deaths from the 2011 North Atlantic Treaty Organization strikes. The Court’s position had also had no stance on ISIL terrorists. The Court’s experience in Libya could not be considered successful, and given the withdrawal from the Rome Statute by several States, he said he doubted any new cases could be brought.
SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) said the formation of an effective Government of National Accord was crucial to establishing the rule of law and addressing impunity. She called on all parties to try to bridge differences. Despite security challenges, she also said she was encouraged by the efforts of the Libyan authorities to comply with Council resolutions, including cooperation with the Prosecutor’s Office. Stating that ISIL was the most prolific perpetrator of atrocities and crimes against humanity, she added that allegations of such crimes against civilians by other parties should also be investigated.
XU ZHONGSHENG (China) said he supported the transition to peace in Libya and welcomed the meeting for political dialogue to be held in Malta. He voiced hope that parties would remain committed to the political process and implement the Agreement, which was a necessity in order to achieve justice. He also said that his country’s position on International Criminal Court remained unchanged.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States), stressing that the ongoing crisis was providing a climate of impunity, called for a stable, unified and inclusive Government of National Accord. She urged Libyans on all sides to make progress towards national reconciliation and voiced hope that in 2017 Libya could hold a referendum on a new constitution and elect a new Government. Violations of human rights and abuse were being committed against civilians, captured combatants and migrants. There also was total impunity for crimes committed by armed groups. Encouraged by progress in retaking the city of Cyrte through efforts by the Government of National Accord, she said that the defeat of Da’esh must be re-enforced by dialogue and the rule of law. She also urged the Government to take appropriate steps to seek the transfer of Mr. Qadhafi to the Court and encouraged the Council to add its voice to the Court’s request for transfer to The Hague.
PHILLIP TAULA (New Zealand) said that the Security Council’s ability to refer cases to the International Criminal Court was an important mechanism. However, the Security Council must remain scrupulous in avoiding perceptions that it used referrals as a political tool. Referrals should not be made unless the Security Council was prepared to follow up on their implementation. Furthermore, any costs incurred by the Court as a result of decisions made by United Nations organs should be accounted from the United Nations budget. The political and security situation in Libya remained fragile. As a result, it was extremely challenging for Court staff to work on the Council’s referral and undertake investigations on the ground. “While we remain supportive of the Prosecutor’s efforts in Libya, we cannot pretend that this referral is currently the most pressing issue facing either Libya or the Court”, he said, pointing out that the intention of three African States to withdraw from the Court called for more engagement and dialogue between the Security Council, the Court and its African Members.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) expressed unequivocal support for the activities of the Prosecutor’s Office and the International Criminal Court to protect humanity from atrocity crimes. To those considering withdrawing from the Rome Statute, he underlined the importance of remaining. Describing the myriad challenges in Libya, he said that there was a pressing need to make progress in reunification and reconciliation. Such progress would create the conditions to prosecute previous and ongoing crimes in the country. He called for the authorities to hand over Mr. Gadhafi and ensure fair treatment of Mr. Al-Senussi and other individuals. He also urged States parties to the Rome Statute to provide adequate resources to the Office so that perpetrators could be held accountable for abuses of fundamental rights in Libya.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said that five years after Security Council resolution 1970 (2011) referred the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court, perpetrators of major crimes against humanity had not been held accountable. However, that was not due to the unwillingness of Libyan authorities, as they had continued to cooperate with the Court. Noting that the Court was continuing to examine crimes committed in Libya and collect evidence, he stressed that it should particularly focus on those carried out by ISIL, Ansar Al-Sharia and other non-State parties. He strongly condemned attacks against civilians, abductions and assassinations of Government officials and judges, as well as hospital shellings and property lootings, which were still common across the country. Much more could be done to ensure accountability for such crimes if Court personnel could investigate within Libya. That would require stabilization of the security situation, meaningful financial resources and assurances of security for Court staff.
HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela) expressed full support for the Court and urged countries that had not yet acceded to the Rome Statute to do so. It was critical that the Court remain impartial. As the impacts of the intervention in Libya continued to be severe, it was also crucial that justice be ensured for the atrocities that had occurred in the past as well as during the current plague of divisiveness and terrorism. He called for the handover of Mr. Qadhafi to the Court and expressed concern that individuals accused of torture had not been prosecuted, with one even returned to his former position. It was critical that the highest standards of justice be applied to the Libyan situation.
FODÉ SECK (Senegal), Council President, spoke in his national capacity, reaffirming his country’s support for the Rome Statute and the referral of the situation in Libya to the Court. He encouraged the Prosecutor’s Office to continue its close cooperation with Libyan authorities and urged those authorities to provide support to the Court while building up the domestic system of justice. He also lent full support to the mediation activities of UNSMIL. He emphasized the need as well for the Council and the Court to cooperate closely together particularly in situations referred by the Council. Dialogue and cooperation was needed between all States parties and the Court, particularly States parties in Africa. He urged the Court to heed African concern and urged those considering withdrawal to work out problems in dialogue.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) stressed that the Government of National Accord would continue to cooperate with the Prosecutor’s Office. He expressed hope that the security situation would improve so that communication between the Libyan Prosecutor-General’s Office could function at a level that allowed full pursuit of justice and the promotion of human rights in the country.