Deploring Increased Violence in Libya, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Tells Security Council International Community Must Help Restore Stability

12 May 2015
7441st Meeting (PM)

Deploring Increased Violence in Libya, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Tells Security Council International Community Must Help Restore Stability

The international community must be more proactive in exploring solutions to tangibly help Libya restore stability and strengthen accountability for violations of international law, said the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as she addressed the Security Council this afternoon.

Presenting the 15-member body with her ninth report on the situation in Libya, Fatou Bensouda said that innocent civilians continued to bear the brunt of the deteriorating security situation in the country, which was a matter of great concern “not only for my Office, but for this Council and the broader international community”.  The frequency and brutality of assassinations, terrorist attacks, and threats to media workers, human rights defenders and women in particular were especially troubling.  Libya continued to be split, with two governments vying for legitimacy.

Proposing the formation of an international contact group on justice issues through which material, legal and other support could be provided to Libya, she said that a “willing State”, with substantial experience in transnational justice, could consider partnering with the country to explore how such a contact group might be brought to life in the near future.

She had taken note of Security Council resolutions 2174 (2014) and 2213 (2015), which both referenced the referral of the Libya situation to the Court in Council resolution 1970 (2011).  She stressed the importance of the Libyan Government’s full cooperation with the Court and with her Office.

“Like the Council, we deplore the increasing violence in Libya, and we are deeply concerned at the impact of this violence on Libya’s civilian population and institutions,” she said, adding that accountability for those responsible for violations or abuses of human rights, or violations of international law, was essential.

In addition, she had also taken note of the Council’s calls for accountability for the use of violence against civilians and civilian institutions by groups purportedly claiming allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/Da’esh.  The Court’s jurisdiction over Libya prima facie extended to such alleged crimes.

However, she said it was States, in the first instance, which bore the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute their nationals who had joined forces with ISIL/Da’esh and were alleged to be committing Rome Statute crimes.  Her Office was considering the investigation and prosecution of further cases, and would not hesitate to take action to contribute to ending impunity in Libya or to contribute to such action by other relevant prosecutorial authorities.

There were cases where Libya was in non-compliance with Court orders, she said.  In particular, it had failed to comply with the Chamber’s requests to surrender Saif al-Islam Gadhafi to the Court.  The Office continued to press Libyan authorities to comply and to consult with the Court in order to resolve any problems that may impede or prevent execution of the requests.  The Security Council was encouraged to do the same.

Regarding the case of Abdullah al-Senussi, she said that her Office had stated in its last report to the Council that no decision had been taken at the time to submit a request for review under article 19(10) of the Rome Statute.  As indicated, the Office had requested information on the national proceedings against Mr. al-Senussi from Libya and had taken steps to access data and analysis from independent trial monitoring sources.

She said that her Office had since received information from the United Nations Support Mission in Libya on the domestic proceedings, as well as from the Libyan Prosecutor-General’s office and from independent civil society members.  Based on that information, the Office continued to find the case against Mr. al-Senussi inadmissible before the Court.  The Office would continue to monitor the situation in Libya and the domestic proceedings against Mr. al-Senussi.

Finally, as suggested in previous statements, she said that the Libyan authorities should facilitate a visit to New York by representatives from the local councils of Misrata and Tawergha to meet and engage with Council members.  Facilitating a solution for the Tawergha issue would have a symbolic importance and resonance in Libya.

Following the presentation of the Prosecutor’s report, members of the Security Council took the floor to condemn the grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that were taking place in Libya.  Many speakers welcomed Libya’s cooperation with the Court, but stressed that more must be done to hold those responsible for crimes accountable.  In that regard, they urged Libya to deliver Saif al-Islam Gadhafi to the Court as requested, and called on the tribunal to continue to monitor the national prosecution of Abdullah al-Senussi.

The representative of Libya, who also addressed the Council, acknowledged his Government’s responsibility to fight impunity as well as the importance of working with the International Criminal Court.  Insecurity in his country, he said, had led to delays in trials from the previous regime.  He hoped that the State would be able to re-extend its authority to make further judicial progress and achieve criminal justice for all crimes committed since 2011.

Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Jordan, Angola, China, United States, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Venezuela, Russian Federation, Chile, New Zealand, Nigeria, Malaysia, Chad and Lithuania.

The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 4:40 p.m.


DINA KAWAR (Jordan) expressed continued support for the International Criminal Court and welcomed dialogue between the Libyan Government and the Prosecutor.  She called on Libya to provide all possible support to the Court through the investigation of incidents, the provision of evidence and through rendering suspects.  The Court’s work was particularly important in the region due to the magnitude of serious crimes being committed, which were causing a flood of migration with often fatal results.  She affirmed her country’s support for the people of Libya and the unity and sovereignty of that country.

JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola), noting the deterioration of conditions in Libya, welcomed cooperation between its Government and the Court.  Expressing concern over human rights reports on the country, he noted that the judicial system was not functioning in many areas and supported United Nations efforts to ensure respect for rights and hold violators to account, as well as international efforts to help the political process move forward in order to reach a peace settlement.

ZHAO YONG (China) said that all parties in Libya should resolve their differences through dialogue and reach a political settlement that took into account the concerns of all.  His country’s position on the International Criminal Court remained “consistent and unchanged”.

MARK A. SIMONOFF (United States) said that since the Prosecutor last briefed the Council, there had been a “disintegration of the rule of law” in Libya.  A number of armed groups in the country had shown little regard for civilian life.  Many of the individuals and institutions with the largest role to play in exposing violations — including media workers, human rights defenders and others — had been singled out.  The ongoing conflict had ravaged the country’s domestic justice intuitions, and the escalating violence made Libya vulnerable to extremists.  The critical first step towards restoring the rule of law was the creation of a unity government through a United Nations-facilitated dialogue.  “There can be no military solution to the conflict,” he said, urging the parties to take the opportunity to adhere to a lasting ceasefire before the holy month of Ramadan began.  He welcomed the decision of the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish a fact-finding mission to uncover human rights violations in Libya.  He welcomed cooperation between the Libyan authorities and the International Criminal Court on burden-sharing with regard to the prosecution of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and looked forward to working with all stakeholders to bring the conflict to an end and to restoring the rights of the Libyan people.

HELEN MULVEIN (United Kingdom) said that her delegation remained concerned about the ongoing conflict in Libya and condemned those on both sides that used violence to achieve their goals.  “There can be no military solution to the current crisis in Libya,” she said, urging those taking part in the United Nations-led talks to agree on a unity government.  She shared the Prosecutor’s concern about “savage and cowardly attacks” committed by armed groups and extremists in Libya.  Civilians on both sides had been targeted.  She supported the Prosecutor’s call for all parties to refrain from committing atrocities.  The treatment of detainees in Libya also remained concerning, with some 10,000 people held and many reports of torture and detainment without trial.  Welcoming cooperation between the national authorities and the Prosecutor’s Office, she recalled that, with regard to the case against Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the Security Council adopted resolution 2213 (2015) which stated that Libya was obliged to comply with all requests for cooperation by the Court.  She therefore called on Libya to immediately surrender Mr. Gadhafi to the Court.

JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain) said that the Council had in February 2011 referred the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court.  “We are all well aware that international peace and security are founded on the prevalence of the rule of law,” he said, adding that in its referral to the Court the Council had risen to the occasion.  Expressing concern about the situation in Libya, Spain condemned attacks against civilians, extrajudicial killings, abuse of women and migrants and attacks on lawyers and judges, among other violations of human rights and international law.  He also expressed concern about crimes committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) and other terrorist groups.  There could only be a political solution to the situation, he said, urging parties to act in a spirit of reconciliation and to create a government of national unity which would respect the rule of law and the rights of all citizens.  Spain welcomed cooperation between the national prosecutor’s office and the International Criminal Court.  Libya must fulfil its obligations to the Court and to the Security Council, including by complying with the latter’s relevant resolutions.  On the case of al-Senussi, he said that the decision of the Court was a “vote of confidence” in Libya’s judicial institutions.  Expressing interest in the prosecutor’s proposal to create a Contact Group on Libya, he asked for more details on its proposed content and characteristics.

TANGUY STEHELIN (France), reaffirming his support for the referral of Libya to the Court, said that the Council should encourage Libyan authorities to cooperate further with the Court, including on the need to comply with all decisions of the judges in the matter of Mr. Gadhafi.  Encouraging further dialogue toward that end, he also welcomed the continued implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Court and the Libyan authorities and stressed that the crimes of ISIL could be under the Court’s jurisdiction.  It was crucial, in the interest of reaching a political solution in Libya, for the Council to send firm messages to all parties in Libya to hold a national dialogue and to put pressure on spoilers through possible sanctions.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) urged all States that were not signatories of the Rome Statute to accede to it as soon as possible in order to strengthen international justice.  For that purpose as well, the signing of immunity agreements should be ended.  Listing a number of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Libya, he said that conditions did not allow Libyan authorities to strengthen accountability and the rule of law.  Therefore, the application of justice was not possible through national resources alone; the transfer of Mr. Gadhafi to the Court should be considered in that light.  In addition, he supported efforts to ensure that justice prevailed in the context of the atrocious acts committed by ISIL, and he lent full support to United Nations efforts to bring about a political solution to the Libyan crisis.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said that the dissolution of order in Libya had led to worsening consequences, from weapons trafficking to the smuggling of migrants.  In ameliorating that situation through national dialogue, any judicial activities should be carefully considered in terms of effectiveness.  In that light, he regretted to say that updates on Libya were becoming more like monitoring reports.  Developments so far did not seem conducive to referring more parts of the situation to the Court, but addressing the horrific activities of ISIL in Libya should be considered in further dialogue between the Council and the Court.

CARLOS OLGUÍN CIGARROA (Chile) echoed the call of the Court on all parties in Libya to refrain from attacking civilians.  He underlined the importance of a political solution that guaranteed the rights of all civilians, including vulnerable groups.  Acknowledging the value of the Court’s jurisdiction in Libya, he encouraged further cooperation between Libyan authorities and the Court as well as with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).  Chile was willing to support all efforts to strengthen justice and stability in Libya and to share its experiences in transitional justice.  He underscored the importance of accountability for all serious crimes in Libya, adding that full support for the Prosecutor’s Office was necessary for that purpose.

PHILLIP TAULA (New Zealand) stressed that a successful conclusion to the United Nations-led political process, supported by the international community, was central to end the deterioration of conditions and to help bring peace in Libya.  For that purpose, strengthening justice and the rule of law was critical.  He said he was pleased that cooperation between the Libyan Prosecutor-General and the Court continued.  That cooperation should ensure that the cases against Mr. Gadhafi and Abdullah al-Senussi proceeded as quickly as possible in line with due process requirements.  He encouraged Libya to reach out to the Court to resolve any issues that prevented them from surrendering Mr. Gadhafi.  Welcoming the Prosecutor’s engagement with the issue of internally displaced people, he suggested that a durable agreement for the return of the Tawerghan communities to their land would send an important message of reconciliation.  In closing, he said that the Council must think seriously about what it could do to provide support to the Court for mandates it gave to it and must improve coordination with the Court, possibly through a judicial Contact Group.

MARTIN SENKOM ADAMU (Nigeria) said that he was pleased to note that the Libyan’s Prosecutor-General’s office had been cooperating actively with the International Criminal Court.  Concerning the case against Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, he said that Libya had an obligation to surrender Mr. Gadhafi to the Court.  He called on the parties to end the impunity of those committing grave crimes.  In addition, he strongly condemned the killings by ISIL and other armed groups.  Those committing such grave crimes must be held accountable.

RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) said that since the last briefing of the Prosecutor, the political and security situation in Libya had continued to deteriorate.  The unstable situation was a breeding ground for more crimes to be committed, in particular by groups claiming affiliations with ISIL/Da’esh.  The Prosecutor’s report had pointed out unlawful attacks such as arbitrary detentions and torture.  Malaysia was particularly alarmed by the number of displaced persons in Libya, which was reported to have expanded eightfold since before the 2014 crisis, as well as by the large numbers of migrants who perished attempting to cross the Mediterranean.  He called on Libya to continue to cooperate with the Court, but noted that that cooperation would largely depend upon the general situation in the country.

MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad) said that the situation in Libya had continued to deteriorate.  The human rights situation had become dire and the Court had not been able to carry out its activities in the country.  With regard to the proceedings against Mr. Gadhafi and Mr. al-Senussi, he said that those cases had not been sufficiently pursued.  He stressed therefore that Libya must respect its commitment under the Memorandum of Understanding of 2013 and fully cooperate with the Court.  Since the Prosecutor’s last report, some 8,000 people continued to be detained and awaited judicial process.  There were tens of thousands of newly displaced persons, reports of acts of torture and attacks against the media.  The ongoing terrorist presence in Libya had multiplied and crimes against foreign nationals and minorities were taking place.  In that regard, he condemned the recent executions of Ethiopian and Egyptian Christians by criminals loyal to ISIL.

NIDA JAKUBONE (Lithuania), whose country holds the presidency for the month, speaking in her national capacity, expressed concern over the deterioration of the situation in Libya, noting that conditions were not conducive to ensuring accountability in the country.  Especially worrisome were growing threats to human rights defenders and media workers.  She encouraged the Prosecutor to closely monitor the situation as some crimes could fall under the jurisdiction of the Court.  On detainees, the Government of Libya should redouble its efforts to release those against whom there was no evidence and refer others to national courts in accordance with legal requirements.  She urged Libya, in addition, to surrender Saif al-Islam Gadhafi to the custody of the Court, and she supported the creation of a Contact Group on justice for Libya to facilitate further constructive dialogue with all stakeholders.  Expressing support to the Office of the Prosecutor, she stressed that the fight against impunity was an obligation that was not limited to the States parties of the Rome Statute.

IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI (Libya) acknowledged his Government’s responsibility to fight impunity as well as the importance of complementarity between national authorities and the International Criminal Court.  He welcomed continued cooperation with the Court and Libya’s Prosecutor-General in that context, as well as the suggestion to establish a judicial Contact Group.  He suggested that Libyan officials could come to New York to coordinate solutions for that purpose and to work for solutions to displaced persons problems.

Insecurity in his country, he said, had resulted from militias taking control over territory, which led to delays in trials from the previous regime, including the two men mentioned often today.  His Government was able to guarantee the fairness of trials it conducted and much progress had been made, but the militia control of some officials under indictment had led to delays.  He hoped that the State would be able to re-extend its authority to make further judicial progress and achieve criminal justice for all crimes committed since 2011.  Authorities were also ready to aid victims and pave the way for displaced persons to return home.

Libya insisted on the national jurisdiction for necessary procedures while continuing to foster cooperation with the Court, he said.  Numerous meetings had been held for that purpose.  Conducting trials in Libya would strengthen justice in the country, especially since it was there that the related crimes were committed and a sense of justice would be better built among the population in that manner.  He hoped that the Court would acknowledge national jurisdiction over the case of Mr. Gadhafi, and he looked for further cooperation with the Court in strengthening Libyan justice, in the context of its national sovereignty.  In that regard, he looked for current dialogue initiatives to help restore State institutions so that justice could be served.

Responding to questions and comments about the proposed Contact Group, Prosecutor FATOU BENSOUDA welcomed interest by Spain and said that she would be happy to bring other interested parties into that discussion.  However, Libya must take ownership over that process for the Group to succeed.  The group could serve as a brainstorming forum to examine the needs and challenges of Libya, and could facilitate and pool resources to build capacity in the country, she added.

For information media. Not an official record.