For the ICC prosecutor, Libya remains a “high priority situation”

The ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, during her briefing to the UN Security Council on November 10, 2020 The ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, during her briefing to the UN Security Council on November 10, 2020 ICC-CPI

10 November 2020

Reporting to the UN Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor renewed her Office’s commitment to seek justice for the victims of the Libyan conflict

On November 10, the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, presented her Office’s report on the situation in Libya to the UN Security Council. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting was held remotely. While welcoming the ceasefire agreement signed by warring parties on October 23, the Prosecutor urged the Security Council to fully support the International Criminal Court (ICC) to achieve its mandate in the country.

Fatou Bensouda reassured that, notwithstanding the above mentioned agreement, “Libya remains a high priority situation” for the Prosecutor’s office. Since last spring - and despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic – the ICC deployed two investigative missions to collect evidence on the field. Following the discovery of multiple mass graves in June, the Prosecutor’s Office has been working in close contact with national authorities, which have so far recovered over 100 bodies.

Regarding the recently ended offensive in Tripoli, the ICC received credible reports on serious crimes including indiscriminate airstrikes affecting civilian areas, extrajudicial killings, abductions and torture of civilians. The reports also indicated an “increased use of mines and improvised explosive devices” placed inside civilian homes as troops were withdrawing from Tripoli. Ms. Bensouda highlighted that “between May and July alone, at least 49 people were killed as a result of the use of mines”. Furthermore, the Prosecutor’s Office has been receiving information on “the alleged use of excessive force by security forces” in the west of the country, as well as serious crimes witnessed in prison and detention centres. Fatou Bensouda also stressed the worrying situation of internally displaced persons and migrants, who continue to be subjected to trafficking and other most serious human rights violations.

While welcoming the positive developments achieved so far, the ICC Prosecutor encouraged the Council to intensify its efforts to eradicate these crimes and assist the Court in seeking justice on behalf of the victims. As repeatedly stressed by Ms. Bensouda, individuals against whom warrants of arrest have been issued by the Court must be brought to justice. The failure to arrest and surrender these individuals, she argued, “remains a major stumbling block preventing [the Prosecutor’s] Office from seeking effective justice for the victims of atrocity crimes committed in Libya”. In this regard, Ms. Bensouda called on the Council to scale up its efforts pointing out that “there is a collective responsibility” for these arrest warrants to be duly executed.


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Author: Ester Zangrandi

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