|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6647th Meeting (PM)
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Briefs Security Council on ‘ Libya Case’,
Saying Up to Fugitives to Surrender, Up to Council, States to Ensure Justice
Prosecutor Says Investigations Focused on Two Indictees, Gender
Crimes, but Allegations of Crimes by NATO, Other Forces Will Also Be Examined
The International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecution was galvanizing efforts to ensure that Libya’s former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, would face justice, following the death of Muammar Qadhafi on 20 October, the Security Council was told this afternoon.
Briefing the Council on his activities regarding Libya, Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, of the International Criminal Court, said information had been received that a group of mercenaries might be endeavouring to facilitate the escape from Libya of the late leader’s son, Saif al-Islam Qadhafi. He called upon States to do all they could to disrupt any such operation, saying: “It is up to Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah al Senussi to decide if they will surrender themselves, remain in hiding or try to escape to another country. It is up to the United Nations Security Council and States to ensure that they face justice for the crimes for which they are charged”.
He said the Office’s current investigations were focused on collection against the two indicted and into gender crimes in Libya. Mindful that, in Libya, rape was considered to be one of the most serious crimes, the Prosecution had adopted a strategy that sought to limit the exposure of the victims. Evidence indicated, however, that hundreds of rapes had occurred during the conflict.
He said there had also been allegations of crimes committed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the National Transitional Council-related forces, including the alleged detention of civilians suspected to be mercenaries and the alleged killing of detained combatants. Those allegations would be examined impartially and independently by the Office. Carrying out the investigations of all allegations would depend on the available budget.
The representative of Libya assured Council members that the National Transitional Council would end impunity and make justice its highest priority. Without justice, he said, security, democracy or development could not be achieved. The Transitional National Council would take the appropriate legal measures to ensure that all involved in crimes not covered by that Court’s jurisdiction would be subjected to transparent investigations and to fair trials by Libyan courts.
He said that Libyan efforts, however, must be supported by coordination and information-sharing by all States. He called on neighbouring States to refrain from providing a safe haven for any fugitive wanted by the International Criminal Court or the Libyan courts.
Speakers around the table generally agreed that the Security Council’s decision to refer the Libyan case to the Prosecutor’s Office reflected the importance the international community gave to ensuring accountability for systematic attacks against Libyan civilians. The United States’ representative said that justice and reconciliation would be critical to ensuring that Libyan society left behind its tragic and bloody past, but felt that Muammar Qadhafi’s brutal reign did not justify his brutal death. She welcomed the Transitional Council’s announcement that it would conduct an inquiry into that event.
The Court had been able to gather judicial proof of murder, persecution and crimes against humanity in Libya as they were unfolding, said France’s delegate. It showed its ability to act quickly and put pressure on those responsible for crimes. It showed that the Council and people had access to recourse. The Council had acted rapidly in the Libyan case — intervened when a Government failed to protect its own citizens. It must do the same in Syria and Yemen.
Indeed, said the representative of Germany, by unanimously adopting resolution 1970 (2011), the Council had taken a historic decision by which the protection of civilians was an overriding responsibility. The significance of the message went beyond the context of Libya and should be heard everywhere where repression and atrocities occurred.
The representatives of Colombia, India, Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, China, United Kingdom, Gabon and Portugal also spoke.
The meeting was called to order at 3:13 p.m. and closed at 4:47 p.m.
The Security Council met today to consider the situation in Libya.
Briefing by International Criminal Court Prosecutor
LUIS MORENO-OCAMPO, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said arrest warrants had been issued against Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Qadhafi, Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi on 27 June. The Judges’ decision had unveiled the crimes committed against civilians in Tripoli and other areas. In order to retain power, Mr. Qadhafi had ordered the persecution of those considered dissidents. The Judges had concluded that in order to stop the crimes and protect civilians, it was necessary to arrest Mr. Gaddafi.
Noting that Muammar Qadhafi had died on 20 October, he said that his Office was galvanizing efforts to ensure that Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah al-Senussi would face justice. Questions had been received about the legal conditions attaching to Saif al-Islam’s potential surrender to the Court, such as what would happen to him if he appeared before the Judges and if he would be sent back to Libya. He had also received information that a group of mercenaries might be endeavouring to facilitate his escape from Libya. He called upon States to do all they could to disrupt any such operation. “It is up to Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah al-Senussi to decide if they will surrender themselves, remain in hiding or try to escape to another country. It is up the United Nations Security Council and States to ensure that they face justice for the crimes for which they are charged,” he said.
Last weekend, his Office had conducted a first assessment mission to Libya to prepare for the collection of further evidence, he said. Current investigations were focused on collection against the two indicted and into gender crimes in Libya. Personal assets would be sought for the potential benefit of the victims. Mindful that in Libya, rape was considered to be one of the most serious crimes, the Prosecution had adopted a strategy that sought to limit the exposure of the victims. In that respect, the Office had been in contact with sources reporting multiple victims of sexual violence, allegedly committed by Qadhafi security forces. Evidence indicated that hundreds of rapes had occurred during the conflict.
He said there were also allegations of crimes committed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces and by National Transitional Council-related forces, including the alleged detention of civilians suspected to be mercenaries and the alleged killing of detained combatants. Those allegations would be examined impartially and independently by the Office.
He said in conclusion that the Office of the Prosecutor would continue investigations into Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi and into rapes and would evaluate the possibility for further investigation. The feasibility of carrying out those investigations would depend on the available budget.
NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s conscientious attention to detail showed the Court was acting in great earnest. The Prosecutor’s Office had proven to be effective during the first stage of those proceedings. He noted that three cases had been opened into crimes of assassination and political persecution. At this stage, it was essential that all parties involved, particularly the new authorities in Libya, cooperated with the Court. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s references to the Rome Statute and bodies like Interpol and United Nations investigation bodies were encouraging.
He stressed the need to fulfil specific inquiries into possible illicit activities that could be very important for concluding open investigations and could have serious repercussions for financially compensating victims under terms of the Rome Statute. He welcomed the new Libyan authorities’ statements that they were willing to cooperate with the Prosecutor’s Office. It was necessary to ensure that those still at large were apprehended. Arresting those accused and turning them over to the Court was the way to implement the Council’s decision under the Charter’s Chapter VII.
SUSAN E. RICE (United States) said the Council’s decision to refer the Libyan case to the Prosecutor’s Office reflected the importance the international community gave to ensuring accountability for systematic attacks against Libyan civilians. Council resolution 1970 (2011) was a historic milestone. Justice and reconciliation would be critical to ensuring that Libyan society left behind its tragic and bloody past. An effective criminal justice system was crucial to Libya’s future, as was ensuring that the rule of law, treatment safeguards and due process protections were firmly in place. Helping the National Transitional Council implement commitments must be a very high priority. She stressed the importance of ensuring that all human rights in Libya, including for former officials and detainees, were fully respected during and after the transition.
She said that Muammar Qadhafi’s brutal reign did not justify his brutal death. She welcomed the Transitional Council’s announcement that it would conduct an effective inquiry into that event, as it was necessary to look into abuses on both sides. She was deeply troubled by reports that sub-Saharan African migrants and others detained in ad hoc jails were being abused. It was necessary to work together to support the creation of an inclusive democratic State in which all Libyans of all backgrounds were able to participate. The two other Libyan fugitives wanted by the Court — Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah al-Senussi — must be brought to justice.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said that although his country was not a signatory to the Rome Statute, it supported the rights and obligations of States parties. Since Mr. Ocampo’s last briefing, the situation in Libya had changed significantly. There had been a large number of deaths and a proliferation of weapons. The time had come for the authorities in Libya to achieve reconciliation and stability. An inclusive approach to that process was the only way to overcome the multitude of problems Libya was facing.
He said that, as the Prosecutor was progressing with its investigations, among others, in gender crimes, he hoped an impartial investigation would be carried out into alleged crimes committed by all parties in Libya. Everybody responsible for committing crimes under the Rome Statute should be held accountable, without political considerations. It must moreover be ensured that all the Prosecutor’s actions were in accordance with resolution 1970 (2011).
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) welcomed contacts by the Court’s representative with some of the accused, but regretted that Muammar Qadhafi himself had been killed and was unable to say anything to investigators. The Court should consider all actions by all parties to the conflict. The number of civilian casualties as a result of actions by all parties was very high, including those caused by NATO coalition forces. All who were guilty of the most serious crimes under international law should be punished.
He, therefore, welcomed an investigation into the killings of Mr. Qadhafi and his son and hoped the International Criminal Court had enough determination and resources to conduct that and other investigations. He expressed doubt, however, that such investigations would be possible in the current situation in the country. The Court, therefore, should carefully follow the pace of the investigation in Libya and render assistance where necessary. If Libyan authorities could not carry out the necessary investigation, then the Court should step in and do so.
MARTIN BRIENS (France) said the Council had acted rapidly in the Libyan case. When a Government failed to protect its own citizens, the international community had a responsibility to intervene. That was what the Council had done for the Libyan people with resolution 1970 (2011). It must do the same in Syria and Yemen. As violence continued today in those countries, the Council must reiterate its message with regard to the primacy of the law as it did following the end of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. The Court had been able to gather judicial proof of murder, persecution and crimes against humanity in Libya as they were unfolding. It showed its ability to act quickly and put pressure on those responsible for crimes. It showed that the Council and people had access to recourse. International justice had a role, not only after, but also during a crisis, with the aim of deterring future crimes. The Court’s judicial process had begun and it must follow its course. The investigations must be carried out. The two Libyan fugitives wanted by the Court must turn themselves in or be arrested.
He welcomed the cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Libyan authorities, which was essential for fulfilling the aspirations of Libyan society. He lauded the fact that other States and regional organizations had pledged their full cooperation with the Prosecutor’s Office. The arrest warrants for the two outstanding Libyan fugitives were still outstanding. The Council must follow up on that and States in the region must help the Libyan authorities ensure that those responsible for the crimes were held to account.
IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s report was one of many that showed the serious and continuous violations of international law and human rights law, including systematic violence against Libyan civilians. The Prosecutor’s findings were “deeply unsettling” and reinforced Bosnia and Herzegovina’s conviction that referring the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court was timely and true to the Council’s commitment and obligations. He welcomed the issuance of arrest warrants for those suspected of committing the crimes. Punishing those responsible was a prerequisite for reconciliation, as well as sustainable and long-lasting peace and stability. He expressed hope that the Libyan people and the Transitional National Council would take responsibility for their future and country.
He called for an independent, impartial investigation into circumstances surrounding the death of Muammar Qadhafi and his son Muatassim. The rule of law should be a cornerstone of the new Libya. Justice should not be a privilege for a few, but a right for all. He expressed hope that the revolution in Libya would lead to the fulfilment of the Libyan people’s fair demand for a constitution that guaranteed the rights of all citizens and served as a basis for a civil State. To achieve that, it was crucial to address the grave atrocities and crimes committed. He strongly supported the work of the Prosecutor and the Court in ensuring justice for Libya’s victims. He commended the National Transitional Council’s pledge to cooperate with and support the Court.
NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon) said the League of Arab States had condemned all actions against civilian Libyans. He welcomed all measures taken by the Prosecutor to consider the serious crimes committed in Libya after the beginning of the revolution. The two fugitives should be brought to justice, as the task of the International Criminal Court did not finish with the demise of Muammar Qadhafi.
He said neighbouring countries should cooperate with the Court to ensure that their territories did not become safe havens. He applauded the call by the Chairman of the National Transitional Council to refrain from acts of reprisal and called on that Council to provide impartial trials for those who had been detained. The custodians of the revolution must not repeat the practice of the dictatorial regime when it came to torture and arbitrary detentions.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) said the situation in Libya had veered away from conflict and towards reconciliation. In that, principles of the International Criminal Court would be fundamental in assisting Libya to bring about a truly democratic State and respect for human rights. She welcomed the statements of the National Transitional Council that condemned acts of reprisals and hoped that every effort would be made to bring to justice all perpetrators, whatever their background.
Concerned with the circumstances of the death of Muammar Qadhafi, she was encouraged that Mr. Moreno-Ocampo had been in contact with Qadhafi’s son and encouraged the Office of the Prosecutor to proceed with all lines of investigation into crimes committed by all actors.
BASO SANGQU (South Africa) said his country supported referral of the Libyan case to the Court because of its long-standing commitment to the fight against impunity. He was concerned about reports from the field about mass atrocities against black Africans in Libya, and he hoped that those reports would receive due attention by the Prosecutor’s Office. He was also concerned by the reports of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch concerning atrocities committed by both sides, and he lauded the National Transitional Council’s intention to conduct an investigation into those crimes. He welcomed the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office to conduct on-site investigations into allegations of rape and to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Muammar Qadhafi and allegations of crimes committed by NATO. He looked forward to the Prosecutor’s report on those investigations, which was due out in May 2012.
U JOY OGWU (Nigeria) stressed her firm commitment to the fight against impunity and to ensuring it was carried out decisively. States must cooperate with that aim. She lauded the Court’s contact and cooperation with the Libyan authorities to ensure justice for all Libyan victims. The Court’s work was essential to ensure reconciliation in Libya, as the systematic and widespread violations of human rights had left “open veins and physical and emotional scars”. She was deeply concerned that the escape of Libyans indicted by the Court could have serious political and security implications for neighbouring States. Those nations could not become safe havens for illegal small arms and light weapons in the region and a place from which to conduct subversive activities. She called for continued cooperation with the Court, saying it would help expedite completion of current investigations. The Court should be relentless in its cooperation with United Nations bodies, Libyan authorities and others to ensure that gender crimes and attacks on black Africans and migrants were addressed. The Court and the Libyan authorities must work closely to develop ways to advance ongoing investigations in order to ensure justice for Libya’s victims.
WANG MIN ( China) hoped that Libya would have a good transitional process that would achieve social stability conducive to launching economic reconstruction, with the assistance of the international community. China’s position relating to the International Criminal Court remained unchanged, he said.
PETER WITTIG ( Germany) said the warrants issued by that Court testified to the determination of the international community not to let the commission of atrocities go unpunished. His country was encouraged by current efforts to ensure the transport of the two remaining indictees to The Hague.
He said that obtaining justice and respect for human rights and rule of law must be at the forefront of the Organization’s consideration, and he called on the Transitional National Council to investigate crimes committed by all sides, as that would pave the way for national reconciliation. By unanimously adopting resolution 1970 (2011), the Council had taken a historic decision by which the protection of civilians was an overriding responsibility. The significance of the message went beyond the context of Libya and should be heard everywhere where repression and atrocities occurred.
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said the Libyan people were now coming together to build a prosperous democratic country. He expressed hope that Muammar Qadhafi’s death would provide relief to their suffering. The Libyan authorities should continue to speak out. He welcomed the National Transitional Council’s investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Qadhafi’s death. The international community must ensure that responsible individuals within Governments were held to account for crimes against their own people and that impunity was no longer tolerable. “In these contexts, the Government of Syria must be aware that eyes are upon them,” he said.
He said that the Council’s swift and decisive action in resolution 1970 (2011) was matched by the Prosecutor’s swift response, which so far had set new standards for international justice. The Court’s investigation into the Libyan situation did not end with Mr. Qadhafi’s death. There were outstanding arrest warrants for two others, and the Court needed the cooperation of States to bring them to justice. The United Kingdom’s authorities had fully supported the Prosecutor and his team. He called on the Libyan authorities to continue cooperating with the Court to encourage Libya’s neighbours to do the same and hand over the two indicted men if found in their territories.
NOEL NELSON MESSONE (Gabon) noted and welcomed the independence and impartiality in which the Court was conducting the Libyan case. Ongoing investigations should cover violence against women, acts of violence committed by Libyan forces and indemnity for protecting victims. Criminals in Libya should be prosecuted in order to create the conditions for peace, justice and reconciliation. Libyan authorities and the Council must seek to shed full light on the crimes committed in Libya against everyone, including foreign workers. He encouraged the Prosecutor to work closely with the Libyan authorities and to cooperate with regional organizations and neighbouring States.
The Court’s action could help improve security in the region, he said. He recalled the obligation of the new Libyan authorities to fully cooperate with the Court pursuant to their obligations during the current historic transition. The Council should encourage the Libyan authorities to establish their institutions based on respect for the rule of law and democratic values. He welcomed the commitments by the authorities to establish favourable conditions for establishment of the rule of law.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal), speaking in his national capacity, said he welcomed the announcement by the Transitional National Council to set up an independent commission of inquiry into Mr. Qadhafi’s death and was concerned by reports of retaliations. It must be ensured that all human rights violations were investigated and migrants should be protected from violence and prosecution. He looked forward to the report by the United Nations National Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council.
IBRAHIM DABBASHI (Libya) said it was evident to the Council and the international community that thousands of Libyans had died since February, victim to atrocities at the hands of Mr. Qadhafi’s forces and mercenaries. There should be an end to impunity and perpetrators should be prosecuted. The new authorities in the country would make justice its highest priority, as security, democracy or development could not be achieved without justice. The Transitional National Council would take the appropriate legal measures to ensure that all involved in crimes not covered by that Court’s jurisdiction would be subjected to transparent investigations and to fair trials by Libyan courts.
Appreciating the activities of the Prosecutor, he called on all States to comply with resolution 1970 (2011). Neighbouring States should refrain from providing a safe haven for any fugitive wanted by the International Criminal Court or the Libyan courts. All States had a duty to assist arresting individuals accused of war crimes and handing them over for trial. Evidence regarding rapes, extrajudicial killings and other crimes committed by Mr. Qadhafi, his forces and mercenaries was being gathered and steps against the perpetrators would be taken. Libya was determined to maintain and guarantee the rule of law and to fulfil all obligations to arrest the indictees present on its territory and bring them to justice. Libyan efforts, however, must be supported by coordination and information-sharing by all States.
He ensured the Council that the new authority had nothing to hide. The achievement of justice was a fundamental element in the creation of a secure, prosperous and democratic state. Justice could not be separated from peace. Those involved in grave crimes should be submitted to fair trials with all due process and legal guarantees. Libya would work in order to achieve that. Peace in Libya and the region required continued efforts of the Council and the international community.
* *** *For information media • not an official record