Monday, August 22, 2011

What's Next for Justice in Libya? The Gaddafis, the ICC and how the US Can Help

The situation in Libya is changing quickly and gains by Libyan rebels led to reports - now refuted - of the arrest of one of suspects wanted by the ICC, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi. Media reports and a press release from the ICC Prosecutor indicated that he has asked the Transitional National Council (TNC) to surrender this suspect, a son of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and allegedly Libya's de facto prime minister, to the Court. It is unclearwhether the TNC would do so if the suspect were in custody.

There are already questions arising about whether justice should be done in Libya or in The Hague. According to UN Security Council Resolution 1970, which referred the Libya situation to the Court, Libyan authorities are obligated to cooperate with the ICC. If the TNC takes control of Libya, as is possible in the near future, that obligation would fall to the TNC. If it wished to try Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi or any other ICC suspect, it could claim that it is carrying out judicial proceedings against them. It would be up to the ICC judges to determine whether these proceedings were legitimate and genuine, thus satisfying the principle of complementarity enshrined in the Rome Statute. The UN Security Council could also adopt a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter directing the ICC to suspend proceedings for renewable periods of 12 months, though this scenario seems unlikely at this time.

The United States could play an important role in urging the relevant officials to transfer any Libyan suspects to the ICC. While President Obama did not mention the ICC in his statement released earlier today, he did indicate that "we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy." The unanimous referral of the Libya situation to the ICC by the Security Council, including the United States, was an important action by the international community to protect the people of Libya and one which the US has continued to support since the referral.

Given the recent events, now is an excellent opportunity to use AMICC's recent action alert in your advocacy to urge President Obama to assist the ICC arrest Col. Gaddafi and the Libya suspects. Hearing from the American supporters of the ICC will help President Obama understand the importance of international justice for the serious alleged crimes in Libya and to build international support for ensuring that no suspects escape justice.

AMICC will frequently post updates here about the situation as it unfolds, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

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