ICC rejects Gaddafi´s admissibility challenge and recognises that amnesties and pardons deny victims the right to truth, access to justice and reparations

The ICC has found in an important decision in the Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi case that amnesties and pardons for serious acts constituting crimes against humanity are incompatible with international law, and that they deny the rights of victims.

This decision was issued in the context of allegations of murder and persecutions in Libya, brought against Gaddafi, the former Libyan de facto Prime Minister. In 2018, Gaddafi challenged the admissibility of the case against him, on the basis that he was already tried by a Libyan court. He further argued that the amnesty law (Law No. 6 of 2015), would bar any further criminal proceedings against him in Libya and therefore the judgement entered by the Tripoli court is final.  REDRESS and Lawyers for Justice in Libya filed an amicus curiae brief on the question of amnesties in this case.

On 5 April 2019, the ICC issued its decision on the admissibility challenge. The Court held that the Libyan judgement did not constitute a final decision, as it is subject to review, and it was rendered in the absence of the accused. The Court also found that the Libyan amnesty law would not apply to Gaddafi considering the nature of the crimes he is charged with.

The Court held that:

granting amnesties and pardons for […] crimes against humanity is incompatible with internationally recognized human rights. Amnesties and pardons intervene with States’ positive obligations to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of core crimes. In addition, they deny victims the right to truth, access to justice, and to request reparations where appropriate

“This decision constitutes a major step in ensuring the rights of victims of international crimes committed in Libya and sets an important precedent in the international fight against impunity worldwide,’ said Julie Bardeche, REDRESS’ Legal Officer.

For more information, please contact Eva Sanchis, Head of Communications at REDRESS, on 020 7793 1777; 07857110076 (out of hours) or [email protected].