International Criminal Court Prosecutor pledges to deliver justice against crimes committed in Libya, briefing Security Council on new investigation strategy.
Outlining a four-pronged new investigation strategy to the Security Council today, the top prosecutor of the International Criminal Court pledged his commitment to delivering justice against crimes committed in Libya.
"This situation cannot be a never-ending story," said Karim Khan, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. "Justice delayed may not always be justice denied, but justice that can still be arrived at."
Presenting the twenty-third report on the Libyan file, he said survivors and the families of victims are waiting for justice, and the report contains benchmarks for the first time to help move cases forwards.
He said the first pillar of the new approach is to prioritize the referrals made by the Council, by allocating more resources and focusing on enhancing financial investigations as well as increasing capacity in investigating sexual and gender-based crimes. The second is a commitment to empower witnesses and survivors to participate in the Office's work. As the Hague, where the Court is based, is far from Libya, it is not possible to establish meaningful relationships with victims by engaging at arms' length, he said, noting his Office is establishing an enhanced field presence.
The third pillar is to strengthen engagement with Libyan authorities, focusing on supporting national accountability efforts based on the principle of complementarity. He said he will visit Libya in the coming reporting period to deepen the Court's relationships with the Libyan authorities. Highlighting the fourth pillar, he said it is to increase avenues for accountability by enhancing cooperation with third States and international and regional organizations. Stressing that he does not want his Office to be only a recipient of cooperation from relevant national authorities but a positive contributor to national accountability processes, he said this must be "a two-way street".
In the ensuing discussion, most speakers supported his new investigative strategy, but Mr. Khan heard some pushback.
The Russian Federation's representative said that the latest report gives rise to questions, namely the Court's decision not to investigate crimes committed in Libya in 2011. Recalling that the events of that period led the Council to refer the Libyan case to the Court, he said that the hastily fabricated case against Muammar al-Qadhafi was used to justify unprovoked military aggression by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against Libya. Resolution 1973 (2011) was violated by Western countries when they treated the establishment of a no-fly zone as carte blanche to carpet-bomb the sovereign and then-prosperous country. Libya suffers today from the consequences of those actions, and the Prosecutor's position that no one else bears responsibility for the catastrophe in that country — other than the brutally murdered Qadhafi — is "astonishingly one-sided", he said.
Likewise, India's representative said when the Libyan issue was referred to the Court in 2011, his country — not a party to the Rome Statute — had doubts about such a course of action. Subsequent events have, unfortunately, vindicated such doubts. It is clear from the Prosecutor's latest and previous reports that the referral to the Court had no effect in bringing about cessation of violence or restoration of stability in the country. In fact, subsequent developments have only reinforced India's view that when cases are referred to the Court primarily for political reasons, the mechanism may not be best suited to serve the purpose of justice.
The speaker for the United States, however, said that with reports of atrocities occurring daily in Ukraine, there is a need to uphold support for international justice mechanisms, including the Court. Rebuffing his Russian counterpart's claims of one-sidedness, he welcomed the extensive and thoughtful stocktaking exercise conducted by the Prosecutor's Office over the past six months and Mr. Khan's dedication to exploring several lines of effort to meet the expectations of victims. Former senior officials of the Qadhafi regime, such as Abdullah al-Senussi and Saif al-Salaam Qadhafi — the latter of whom is subject to an arrest warrant by the Court for charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity — must face justice.
France's delegate voiced her firm support for the Court, noting that the organ is the only permanent international criminal jurisdiction, which plays a vital role in the fight against impunity. Resolution 1970 (2011) imposes on all States, whether they are parties to the Rome Statute or not, to cooperate fully with the Court and its Prosecutor. The Prosecutor's Office must have the resources necessary to carry out its mandate.
Libya's representative emphasized that the Libyan people desire to establish a modern, civil State, but this will not occur without comprehensive national reconciliation, which requires justice, truth, apology, reparation, forgiveness and tolerance. Welcoming the Prosecutor's new strategy, he expressed hope that the approach facilitates justice and combats impunity without selectivity or politicization.
On the issue of immigration, he rejected attempts by some States to export their crises to Libya and advance resettlement in violation of international law. The international community's position on human trafficking is also puzzling as, while the focus is on Libya, this phenomenon is transnational in nature. Thus, he called on the Prosecutor's Office to include in its strategy comprehensive investigations to uncover and prosecute these international criminals who place migrants in Libya.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Mexico, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Norway, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, China, Albania and the United Kingdom.
The meeting began at 3:07 p.m. and ended at 4:42 p.m.