International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Libya promises ICC Gaddafi’s son will get a fair trial

Libya promises ICC Gaddafi’s son will get a fair trial

At what point does it become counterproductive for the ICC to try Gaddaffi’s son themselves?


Of course, there are serious questions as to whether Libyan government could hear the trial properly – it has been known to entertain the death penalty, it has a history of violating attorney privilege, and it’s now believed that Gaddafi was brutally tortured before being killed –so of course it would be ideal if the Libyan government addressed those issues. But if Libya is unwilling or incapable of hearing a proper trial themselves, how much good does it do for the ICC to do it for them? Are international courts a necessary crutch to keep Libya stable for the time being, or do they overlook a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. It’s fantastic that we can serve justice when Libya is incapable, but what are we doing to ensure Libya maintains the rule of law in the future? Are we hoping that fear of being tried by the ICC will be enough to dissuade future war criminals? 


3 responses to “Libya promises ICC Gaddafi’s son will get a fair trial

  1. dpu26 October 14, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    This example of Libya poses an interesting dilemma. On one hand, it’s certainly necessary for Libya to have opportunities to grow from its past human rights abuses toward a future that meets international standards. On the other hand, when do we know that the Libyan government is ready for such responsibilities such as trying Gaddafi’s sons, especially since it’s believed that Gaddafi was brutally tortured before being killed? I think the larger question at hands is a matter of ICC policing vs national sovereignty. At what point, and after meeting what standards, can the international community trust a government with past abuses to comply with international standards? This question is especially complex given the need to respect national sovereignty. Furthermore, ICC has to consider in the case of new regimes, what kind of balance can be struck between helping it remain legitimate in the eyes of its people and in maintaining that it obey international human rights standards.

  2. Micaela October 15, 2012 at 12:37 am

    It seems that a major reason for creating the ICC is that the international community does not have a general trust of some nations’ ability to govern themselves in a way that corresponds with international standards of human rights law: the ICC is a court of last resort only intervening when national authorities cannot or will not prosecute. Respecting national sovereignty will always be a product of trusting a country to comply with international standards. But, as mentioned above, at what point can the international community trust a previously corrupt government to comply with international standards? And what if a nation and the ICC or international community are in disagreement?

    If the ICC judges rule Libya unable give Saif al-Islam a fair trial and Libya believes it is capable of holding a fair trial, “Libya would then be in violation of international law and the will of the United Nations Security Council.” What are the repercussions for a country of such a disagreement?

  3. dfulfs October 15, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I think it is important to maintain the distinction between governing a country and adjudicating its previous occurrences of individuals perpetrating human rights abuses. The ICC was not set up to govern for any states. It was set up to try individuals guilty of human rights abuses when a domestic government could not. It should not be expected that all developing nations have judicial systems with the capacity of trying a criminal like Gaddafi. Aiding in the execution of justice does not mean that the ICC, an international body, is taking the place of the government in any given country.

    From what I have gathered from an article in The Africa Report, the ICC is not 100% settled on the fact that it must try the case. The issue stems from the fact that there is disbelief that Libya could offer Gaddafi a fair trial, and understandably so, seeing as the National Transitional Council passed a law stating that “no son of Gaddafi will ever benefit from leniency.” There is also the issue of the death penalty. Under international law, the death penalty is illegal. However, there are obviously countries who shirk this law regularly, including the United States, so whether or not that would or should be a deciding factor is murky. With these issues combined, it is reasonable that the ICC wants jurisdiction over Gaddafi. As mentioned, the issue of sovereignty is at play, but there is reason to believe that Libya’s post-conflict judicial system is not developed or fair enough to handle trying a Gaddafi right now, meaning that this situation is, in fact, under the purview of the International Criminal Court.

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