ICC issues arrest warrants for Libyan officials for alleged crimes against humanity
The International Criminal Court (ICC) today issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, one of his sons and the country’s intelligence chief for crimes against humanity allegedly committed since the pro-democracy movement began in February.
Hundreds of people are confirmed to have been killed since opposition forces rose up against the regime of Mr. Qadhafi in February as part of a wider pro-democracy movement across North Africa and the Middle East.
Earlier this month, the Court’s Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told reporters that his office had gathered direct evidence detailing the orders issued by Mr. Qadhafi, the role of his son Saif al-Islam Qadhafi in recruiting mercenaries, and the participation of the head of the Libya’s intelligence forces, Abdullah Al Sanousi, in attacks against protesters.
The Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber considered that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that the three suspects committed the alleged crimes and that their arrests appear necessary to ensure their appearances before the ICC, it stated in a news release.
Their arrests are also necessary to ensure that they do not continue to obstruct and endanger the Court’s investigations, and to prevent them from using their powers to continue the commission of crimes within its jurisdiction, the Court added.
Libya is not a State party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC. However, the situation in the North African nation was referred to the Court in February by the Security Council, which adopted a resolution the following month calling on Member States to take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians amid the regime’s violent crackdown against its own people.
Updating the Council on the current situation in Libya, UN political chief B. Lynn Pascoe said resolutions 1970 (February) and 1973 (March) are clear.
"We have an obligation to protect the people of Libya and that is the goal of the current international efforts. We must ensure that the basic rights and freedoms of the Libyan people are fully respected and protected and that their legitimate aspirations are met," he stated.
Mr. Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, added that the UN is concerned about all reports of civilian casualties, whether resulting from the regime’s violence or from military actions by opposition forces or NATO, and that the Secretary-General has emphasized that every effort must be made to avoid exposing civilians to risk.
He also expressed gratitude for the Council’s support for the efforts of Special Envoy Abdul Elah al-Khatib as he works with the parties on a political solution that will end the violence in Libya, allow the UN and its partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need and meet the legitimate aspirations of the people of Libya.
"While an agreement is still far from being concluded, the beginnings of a negotiation process are now under way. The nascent negotiation process must be given space to grow and bear fruit. It is important for the international community to deliver a consistent, clear and coherent message on a political solution to both parties," said Mr. Pascoe.
Mr. al-Khatib is in South Africa today conferring with President Jacob Zuma, following which he will accompany Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to attend the African Union summit.
"He continues to be in close contact with both parties. He is trying to narrow the differences between the two parties and to start indirect talks," Mr. Pascoe stated. "Discussions revolved around the need to end hostilities; agree on a transitional arrangement that is linked to a political process, as well as facilitate safe humanitarian access."
On the humanitarian front, Mr. Pascoe reported that as of 23 June, more than 1.1 million people had crossed the borders from Libya to Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Algeria, Chad and Sudan. UN agencies have been able to access more areas inside the country, largely due to an agreement that was reached with the Libyan authorities in April to provide security and other necessary arrangements for humanitarian efforts.