8091th Security Council Meeting: The situation in Libya

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SIX OFFICIAL 08-Nov-2017 01:38:34
Despite myriad challenges, crucial work of fighting impunity continues in Libya, International Criminal Court prosecutor tells Security Council at 8091st meeting.
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Detailing two additional arrest warrants for grave crimes in Libya, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court reaffirmed to the Security Council today that her Office continued its crucial work in the strife-filled country, despite challenges arising from security constraints and insufficient resources.

“Accountability for serious crimes and full respect for the rule of law are key factors which must be encouraged and supported if Libya is to achieve peace, security and stability,” said Fatou Bensouda, presenting her fourteenth report on the situation to the 15-member organ.

The Prosecutor’s Office continued to receive credible information of grave crimes allegedly perpetrated around the country, she continued. Most recently, it had been granted a warrant of arrest for Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli, a commander in a special forces unit of the Libyan National Army. The charge was responsibility for war crimes in relation to seven executions that resulted in the murder of 33 people. He remained at large.

She went on to report the recently-announced arrest warrant against Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, former Head of the Internal Security Agency under Muammar Qadhafi, for crimes committed during the events of 2011. Mr. Khaled was also at large. The Office was continuing to investigate him and others associated with the 2011 events, including Saif al-Islam Qadhafi, and was devising strategies to facilitate the execution of outstanding warrants. She stressed that irrespective of any domestic investigation, Libya remained under a legal obligation to immediately arrest and surrender suspects to the International Criminal Court to stand trial in Rome.

She noted with grave concern continued reports of serious violations around the country, including the execution of detained persons, kidnappings and forced disappearances, torture, prolonged detentions without legal process, rape under detention and abuse of migrants, among other serious violations. The Libyan National Army had allegedly intensified restrictions on the city of Derna, and mass graves had been found in a town east of Benghazi.

“I remind each and every combatant engaged in fighting in Libya that my Office remains seized of the situation in Libya and if their actions amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, they can be punished”, she said, underlining the responsibility of commanders for acts by subordinates under the Rome Statute and her readiness to bring new applications for arrest warrants.

In addition to insecurity, other challenges faced by the Office included insufficient resources, she said, urging adequate funding to fulfil her mandate. Failure to ensure arrest warrants remained a major challenge, she added, reiterating the obligations that Council members, other States and non-States parties had in that regard.

Despite such challenges, “the arrest warrants announced in the last eight months should clearly demonstrate that my Office continues to be fully engaged in Libya and is determined to achieving real progress towards a culture of accountability for crimes under the Rome Statute,” she emphasized. Thanking those who had provided vital support to the Office, she urged cooperation from all stakeholders, pledging that Libya would remain a priority for her Office in 2018.

Following Ms. Bensouda’s presentation, Council Members expressed concern at the persistence of instability and reports of grave crimes in Libya, with most speakers affirming the necessity of supporting reconciliation in the country and a transition to unified a democratic Government. Most agreed that such progress was critical for rule of law to be restored and for justice to be delivered.

Many speakers also affirmed the importance of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office in those efforts through the fight against impunity, paying tribute to the Office’s work there and calling on Libyan authorities and other actors to cooperate fully in the arrest and surrender of suspects.

However, the Russian Federation’s representative said that the only effective way to address issues of law and justice was to accelerate progress towards the country’s reunification. He argued that the International Criminal Court had been selective in its targets, without having brought cases against rebel factions. Nor, he pointed out, had it dealt strongly with terrorists. The problem of migrants clearly included international organized crime and actors, of which he awaited investigative developments.

Libya’s representative also prioritized his country’s reunification as a means to restore rule of law. In regard to crimes against migrants, however, he argued that any attempt to centralize the problem in Libya was misguided as it was a country of transit, not a country of origin or destination. Too little had been done to combat criminal networks in those latter countries or address the role of international criminal networks and armed groups.

He stressed that, in fulfilling their primary obligation to provide justice in Libya, the national authorities did not mean to show disrespect to the International Criminal Court’s work and its complementary role in the national context. Greater integration of efforts by the national courts and the Prosecutor’s Office had indeed been sought.

Delays in that area and in investigations and prosecutions were due to the security situation, he went on to say. For that reason, support for national efforts to bring about a peaceful transition to a unified, democratic country and to keep weapons from flowing to non-State groups was critical.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, Egypt, United States, France, Uruguay, Senegal, Kazakhstan, Japan, Sweden, China, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Bolivia and Italy.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 11:42 a.m.
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