Justice for victims in Libya should not be delayed after ICC decision

On 31 May, a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected Libya’s admissibility challenge in the case against Saif Al Islam Gaddafi.

Gaddafi is suspected of crimes against humanity including murder and persecution, allegedly committed in Libya in 2011. Libya had challenged the admissibility the case against Gaddafi on the basis that it was already investigating the alleged crimes.

The Chamber found that Libya had not provided enough evidence to show that its investigation covered the same conduct for which Gaddafi was sought by the ICC. The judges recognised Libya’s “significant efforts” to rebuild institutions and restore the rule of law. However, it also deemed Libya unable to genuinely carry out an investigation and prosecute Gaddafi for three reasons: its inability to obtain the transfer of Gaddafi from the Zintan militia; lack of capacity to obtain necessary testimony and to provide adequate witness protection; and the difficulties in providing Gaddafi with an attorney.

The Chamber also reminded Libya of its obligation to surrender Gaddafi. Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) and REDRESS call on Libya to swiftly comply with its obligation to arrest and hand over Gaddafi to the ICC to avoid further delays in delivering justice for victims in Libya.

“Libya’s cooperation with the Court and diligent transfer of Gaddafi would be an important step to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and accountability,” said Dadimos Haile, REDRESS’ Interim Director.

At the same time, LFJL and REDRESS stress the importance of ensuring that proceedings are as close as possible to the victims and affected communities.

“Victims are entitled to see justice being done and to have a voice in proceedings. The ICC should consider whether holding hearings in Libya could answer calls to bring justice home. It is also imperative that the ICC reaches out to victims in Libya to explain the Chamber’s decision,” said Elham Saudi, Director of LFJL.

LFJL and REDRESS encourage the Libyan government to continue its efforts to strengthen the rule of law and to ensure that other suspected perpetrators of international crimes are brought to justice in Libya. The admissibility decision also does not preclude Libya from prosecuting Gaddafi in the future for crimes other than those he is facing before the ICC.

In 2012, LFJL and REDRESS submitted independent observations to the ICC on Libya’s request to try Gaddafi without commenting either on the merits of the admissibility challenge or on the best forum for the case.

For more information, please contact:
LFJL: Mariam Elhadri, Coordinating Officer I Phone: +44 (0)20 7242 5071 I Email:
[email protected] I Languages: Arabic, English.
REDRESS: Eva Sanchis, Communications Officer I Phone: +44 (0)20 7793 1777 I Email:
[email protected] I Languages: English, Spanish.