International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: Libya

UN Envoy Emphasizes Important Role of Libyan Women

libyaAt a recent gathering in Libya’s capital of Tripoli, 250 Libyan women came to hear a briefing from Bernardino Leon, Special Representative and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya(UNSMIL). At this briefing, aimed at incorporating women into the political process and rebuilding of the nation, Leon stressed the important role that women play in bringing the country together.

Leon told these Libyan women that UNSMIL counts on them to keep pushing for a peaceful resolution and “to spread the culture of peace in your communities and to talk and engage with all who have a role to play in bringing stability to Libya.” He also gave information to the group about the ongoing political discussion regarding ceasefire agreements, emphasizing that peace must continue to be advocated for.

This emphasis on the role of women in moving the dialogue process along, reconciling differences among those involved, and making sure that political agreements that may be reached are implemented is interesting, giving the fact that women have suffered greatly from the violence in Libya. It is also interesting in light of the recent class discussions we have had about women’s involvement in transitional justice and how sexual violence crimes are often considered lesser crimes in these conflict situations. In the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we saw women reluctant to come forth with testimony, whether because it would be too re-traumatizing, linguistic barriers made communication too difficult or frustrating, or there was great fear of public backlash against them, especially if they were to call out ANC brethren for their crimes against them.

Here, it is refreshing to see the role of women being emphasized when it comes to transitional justice. The fact that women and women’s’ groups are coming together to participate in political dialogue is an important stepping stone for post-conflict justice. This is particularly true for Libya, as recent reports have indicated the inadequacy of Libyan law in dealing with domestic and sexual violence, as well as public perceptions among both men and women that domestic violence is acceptable.  Perhaps with more involvement from women in peace negotiations and rebuilding efforts, women can have the effect of changing some of these institutions that serve to legitimize violence against women and can alter public perceptions about the acceptable treatment of women. By doing so, women’s involvement in transitional justice may help to prevent future violence and discrimination against women in the country.

Relationship Between Amnesty and Justice…A Constant Struggle

Successful amnesty is viewed as a significant way to reach the desirable goal of reintegrating perpetrators. In the process of granting amnesties efforts to uncover the past are disillusioned, and memories of the past are left to simmer and possibly be re-ignited causing future violence. When leaders of war crimes are granted amnesty the victims who underwent horrible atrocities whom see the perpetrator receive compensation for the harm they themselves underwent, in turn leads victims to feel that justice has not been met. Amnesty from the Greek root Amnestia, literally means to forget. Is it fair for the court to grant amnesties and push the victims to simply forget what has happened to them? I think the reason behind granting amnesties is more political than social. Example of political amnesty (political incentive to promote peace) Charles Taylor. Self-given political amnesty classic case April 1978 General Pinochet introduced a tailor-made amnesty law that covered crimes and misdemeanors committed since the coup of 1973.

The ICC chief prosecutor Bensouda in regard to Libya trying the case of Gaddafi and Senussi advocates that Libya have the right to implement its own judicial system and conduct a fair trial however she urges Libya should not grant amnesty for the war crimes committed. She formally stated,

“My Office takes note of Law 38, granting amnesty at the national level for “acts made necessary by the 17 February revolution”; as well as Law 35, which purportedly ensures that any act found to be in contravention of international laws and human rights covenants will not be exempt. I encourage the new Libyan government, scheduled to be sworn in the coming days, to ensure that there is no amnesty for international crimes and no impunity for crimes, regardless of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim”

It is interesting that she outright states Libya should not grant Gaddfi and Senussi amnesty. Perhaps this is her way of aligning justice for the victims as a higher objective than political peace.

Questions that I want to continue thinking about include: are amnesties capable of securing justice and what power do amnesties have in the eyes of perpetrators?  (especially when they know amnesty can be retracted such as in the case of Charles Taylor)


Rape as a War Crime

A British documentary revealed a disturbing account of the rape chambers of Gaddafi.

When rape is used as a weapon in war and peace, there is a thin line where violators cross from what would be recognized as torture to the ICC or classified as an “ordinary crime” handled by civil court.

With the photo archives that have been revealed in the “sex dungeon” cases and even the tortures in Syria, what kind of suit would have to be brought against a person if there is not enough evidence of torture? In situations of massacres and large scale violence, how are rape cases distinguished between crimes of war, crimes against humanity, and instruments of genocide?

Because of such personal accounts and humiliation that come with the reporting of a rape crime, it is most likely the case that a lot of rape events have not been confronted as war crimes until much later after it actually happened. If an offender identifies with a party opposed to that which the civilian victim belongs to or to which she/he owes allegiance, is the crime ultimately considered to be carried out in unison with the ultimate goals of a military campaign?

The timing of the offense perpetrated during a non-international armed conflict is a complicated one. How is it proven that an offense has been created by an armed conflict? Does the timing of conflict necessarily create the context of rape? I ask this because I’m sure not all rape cases during conflict times are carried out in consonance with the ultimate goals of a military campaign and against a protected person.The same applies to the case of an offense committed (e.g. murder) in breach of IHL, by a civilian against a combatant belonging to the opposing party to the conflict.

The Other Qaddafi, Niger, and the ICC


According to a recent article from the Libya Herald, a few days ago President Mahamadou Issofou of Niger offered up Saadi Qaddafi to the ICC, should it seek to arrest and prosecute him. Qaddafi is Muammar Qaddafi’s son, and in November 2011 he sought and received asylum in Niger. While the court has not issued a warrant for Qaddafi’s arrest, when Bensouda briefed the UNSC on the situation in Libya, she did mention the possibility of a second case in relation to Libya. In addition to investigating rebel crimes, which was the most seized upon implication of her announcement, she is also, however, looking into “allegations against other members of the Gaddafi government for crimes committed during the events of 2011” (From her report, 11.07.12).

While there is debate over whether Qaddafi’s actions during his father’s regime and during the revolution constitute the most serious crimes which the ICC is mandated to try, I find it interesting that Niger is making this offer unprompted to the ICC. Issofou announced that “On the extradition of Saadi Qaddafi… this will be done in accordance with international laws and the rule of law, and we are ready to comply with these laws…If asked by the International Criminal Court to deliver Qaddaf’s son, we are ready to place him at its disposal.” The Nigerien president also described the relationship between Libya and Niger as “excellent,” even though Libya has repeated sought to have Qaddafi extradited from Niger, which declined for “humanitarian considerations” – presumably the treatment that Qaddafi would face if returned to Libya.

Is this then an example of the kind of international standards that the ICC seeks to promote in action? What are we to make of Issofou’s unprompted offer to transfer Qaddafi into ICC custody? Should such enthusiasm lead us to suspect political maneuvering, or should we see it as a beacon of hope for the normalization of international justice?

Bensouda To Try Libyan Rebels

Recently, Bensouda addressed the UNSC and asked for no impunity whatsoever for any parties involved in the Libyan conflict. She said “I encourage the new Libyan government, scheduled to be sworn in tomorrow, on 8 November, to ensure that there is no amnesty for international crimes and no impunity for crimes, regardless of who the perpetrator is and who is the victim.”

In particular, Bensouda was addressing two Libyan laws:  “One that grants amnesty at the national level for ‘acts made necessary by the 17 February revolution,’ and another which aims to ensure that any act found to be in contravention of international laws and human rights covenants will not be exempt.”

This situation seems to be of direct interest to our class. Does this prosecutorial strategy offer a new direction for the ICC, one aiming to avoid victors justice, and strengthen the legitimacy of the court by appearing more evenhanded in its transitional justice approach? Or is this an example of the ICC demanding justice at the expensive of peace? If there are prosecutions of the rebels, will this destabilize the current transition efforts?

ICC & Libya – Prosecutor Bensouda gathering evidence for new war crimes charges

In her first presentation to the U.N. Security Council as the ICC’s top prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda stated that Libya should not grant amnesty for war crimes that were committed during the uprising against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. During this presentation last week, Bensouda mentioned that Libyan authorities previously stated that they would act to ensure that there would be no impunity for crimes committed in the conflict. However, despite this assurance, I think there are legitimate concerns that a new Libyan law would permit amnesty.

On May 2, 2012 a law was passed in Libya that allowed amnesty to be given to perpetrators of crimes if their actions were aimed at “promoting or protecting the revolution” against Muammar Gaddafi. This law allows amnesty for “military, security, or civil actions dictated by the February 17 Revolution” that were carried out by “revolutionaries with the goal of promoting or protecting the revolution.” (A letter from Human Rights Watch to former ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo regarding these Libyan amnesty laws can be read here.)  In the new laws amnesty is not permitted in cases of torture and rape, though other crimes including forced displacement and murder are not explicitly excluded.

Bensouda urged the new Libyan government “to ensure that there is no amnesty for international crime, and no impunity for crimes regardless of who the perpetrator is and who is the victim,” though it remains to be seen if Libyan prosecution efforts will be one-sided and focus on crimes committed by anti-Gaddafi fighters. In an interview detailed in USA Today this weekend, following her Security Council presentation Bensouda also discussed filing new war crimes charges relating to the Libyan civil war, which would be the first charges since the May 2011 arrest warrants were issued for Muammar Gadhafi, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Abdullah al-Senoussi. Though there has yet to be an official ruling with regard to whether Seif al-Islam Gadhafi will be tried at the ICC or in Lybia, Bensouda mentioned she is currently examining allegations that civilians in Tawerga were subjected by Misrata militias to crimes which could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Politicized Referral of Libya

When the UNSC referred Libya to the ICC under Resolution 1970, there were multiple indications that the motivations behind the referral from UNSC member nations were highly politicized.

First, Resolution 1970 excludes non-ICC state parties. This supports many previous complaints that the ICC is only interested in persecuting crimes in certain nations and that similar crimes within the same context cannot be tried in other nations who did not ratify the Rome Treaty.

Second, the referral includes a reference to Article 16 of the Rome Statue, which allows the UNSC to suspend an investigation or prosecution by the Court for 12 months.

Third, the ICC is only able to try crimes in Libya that occurred after February 15, 2011. There are many issues raised by this narrow time frame given to the court, but the biggest is that certain records of the relationship between the US and the UK with Libya prior to February 2011 cannot be used in any of the ICC proceedings.

This is a problem because there was significant evidence that the United States and the United Kingdom were closely involved with the Gaddhafi regime, including in the torture of Gaddhafi regime enemies.

Many scholars have argued that the relationship between the US and the ICC has begun to improve in recent years, but does this highly politicized referral by the UNSC indicate otherwise? Is it possible that the United States didn’t vote to refer the Libya situation because it believed that the ICC was the best body to investigate the crimes, but rather because it believed that the provisional referral would protect the United States from any scrutiny over their relations with the Gaddafi regime prior to the uprising?

UN’s obstruction of its own mandate

In preparing for our upcoming topic, the International Criminal Court, I came across an article in Reuters, discussing the statement by Song, the President of the Court, relating to the lack of support by the UN Security Council in cases of referral. Upon looking into the cases of Libya and Darfur, it became evident to me that most challenges faced by the Court are related to a lack of cooperation on the part of governments in question. As Song states, action must be taken by the Council to emphasize the importance of the assistance of its member states in its own cases. Otherwise, the referral of these mandates to the ICC is deemed senseless, which unfortunately has been the case in too many situations.

The article goes on to exemplify such cases. With respect to Darfur, following the indictment of Omar Hassan al-Bashir by the Court, African states voted not to cooperate with the decision, and even ICC member states, who are obliged to carry out the Court’s verdicts, let Bashir travel independently through their borders. In the Libyan case, on the other hand, Libyan authorities refuse to hand Gaddafi to the ICC to provide a fair trial on the basis of the charges in said war crimes. In trying to adjudicate him in its national courts, Libya will cause his trials to not be fair or impartial, thereby, in a sense, obstructing justice. As the mandate was referred to the Court by the Security Council, it has the power to pursue the case despite the fact that Libya is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. It will be decided by ICC judges whether Gaddafi should be extradited to the Hague or dealt with in Libyan trials, however in either case, the Security Council’s full support in ensuring the cooperation of the authorities of their own member state.

In a situation where the lawyer appointed by the ICC for Gaddafi can be detained in Libya based on allegations of espionage, there should be no need to highlight the crucial importance of the Council’s contribution to the case in dealing with their own member states, and taking action if necessary. However, in response to vague statements such as the one by the Secretary General himself, simply repeating the unease expressed by Song as if it constitutes a concrete solution, it seems like there is little that can be done.

Would Senussi’s Extradition to the ICC Create Instability in Post-revolutionary Libya?

At the start of the Libyan revolution, both sides were determined to realize two very different ends: Muammar Gadhafi wanted to quash public protest and political dissent, and retain his seat of power, while the opposition wanted to bring an end to Gadhafi’s reign of oppression and guarantee the basic rights and liberties many of us enjoy today. In other words, their aims were fundamentally irreconcilable, as evidenced by the fact that both sides took up arms before they offered to meet at the negotiating-table. And how could one fault the opposition for refusing to negotiate with him? The last time they asked for better living conditions, as was the case in Abu Salim prison, they were told a change in their fortunes was imminent – little did they know that ‘change’ in the Gadhafi-regime’s language meant being gathered into a prison courtyard and subsequently ripped to shreds by grenade shrapnel and machine gun ammunition.

And the perpetrator who ordered that extrajudicial massacre of over 1,200 detainees in 1996 was none other than Gadhafi’s intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi. Of late, there has been significant international concern expressed over whether or not Senussi can be tried fairly in a Libyan court. Amnesty International in particular has lambasted the Libyan government for failing to extradite Senussi to the ICC, which has had an active arrest warrant on him since June 2011 for crimes against humanity. According to the rights group, Libya’s “justice system [is] in disarray.” It goes on to report that Libya’s weak and inconsistent domestic jurisprudence would “[undermine] the right of victims to see justice and reparation” if an unfair trial against Senussi were to be carried out. There is indeed compelling evidence to support the claim that fear of reprisal, torture and revenge, and victor’s justice have infiltrated Libya’s security and legal systems. The arrests of an ICC four-member team when they visited Saif Gadhafi in Zintan exacerbated fears that Libya’s courts are unfit to try Senussi. But Libyans are hearing another side of the story – one that has already made its rounds through many prominent Libyan news sources. The Tripoli Post reports that these members made a national security breach by trying to “deceptively” deliver documents to Saif without first declaring them. Whatever took place in that prison cell, many Libyans now find it hard to trust the ICC with their most notorious criminals.

Many arguments have been made on principle and in staunch defense of global justice. There are many who believe prosecuting Senussi in Libya would undermine the integrity and credibility of international justice institutions – and they are likely right. But then again, so have actions taken, or rather not taken, by the ICC itself, such as the selective justice made readily apparent in failing to indict those responsible for mass atrocities like Bashar al-Assad. More difficult arguments, however, that would involve an intricate study of the Libyan body politic’s social mores, traditions and values, and conceptions of justice, have not yet managed to grace the morning news’ headlines. As Faiza Ahmed Zubi remarked in 2009, before bullets started flying and passions started boiling as Libyans across the country lost loved ones to the war, “We want the criminals who killed our sons [in Abu Salim] brought to justice.” Her interviewer, international journalist and writer Lindsey Hilsum asked, what kind of justice.

“I want Gadhafi, his sons, and all those who helped him to be killed,” she replied, her face impassive, her voice steady.

“Kill them all?” asked Hilsum.


“Is there no other way?”

She shook her head.


(This account was taken from Lindsey Hilsum’s book, Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution.)

My bringing up this exchange does not mean I am looking to extrapolate this one instance to try to gauge the whole of the Libyan people’s sentimentality on the issue of justice. But the death penalty is widely accepted in the country and many do feel it is the most fitting punishment for men like Gadhafi, Saif, and Senussi – that is direct from my experience spending time in some of Libya’s most populous cities along the coast, as well as from consulting with more knowledgeable Libyans in my two month stay there in August and September of 2012. There is disagreement over how Muammar Gadhafi died – some say he deserved worse while others took a more principled approach in saying he should have been tried in court. But few disagreed on his death itself. The people differ on the means that led to that end, but the end itself is widely accepted as justice. Senussi and Saif in many Libyans’ eyes deserve the same fate. If you want to change their understanding of justice, you are certainly welcome to, but first it is recommended that you read up on Libyan history, debates over the death penalty in Islam (in English and in Arabic), and the current security vacuum that allows for reprisal killings and pockets of fighting to take place on a relatively regular, albeit geographically sporadic, basis. But if you are going to argue a clash of principles under the false assumption that the Libyan people as a whole ascribe to the international community’s ideals of justice as they pertain to what they (the Libyans) would view as “exceptional perpetrators” of mass atrocities, then you will most certainly lose out.

What you can do is start a dialogue within the country, reaching out to the people and asking them to participate in a debate over the partiality and weaknesses in Libya’s current justice system that make it unfit to try Senussi. You can even, and probably should, suggest that a hybrid tribunal be created to deal with Libya’s elite perpetrators, granting the court more legitimacy and the ease of access necessary for the imperatively hasty, public dissemination of information. Perhaps you’ll change a few minds, if not more. But that debate takes time and slow justice has been found to yield increases in vengeance and regional volatility. Subsets of the population are still being ostracized over positions taken during the war and relations between revolutionaries and perpetrators in the widely spoken of “rape of Misrata” haven’t gotten any better. We must ask ourselves if Senussi’s extradition is worth a new wave of revenge killings in cities like Sirte and Bani Walid, which would almost certainly be targeted by (heavily armed) communities outraged at the lack of justice (read: death) done to “the butcher of Libya.” Standing by principle carries costs and it is not right, as many defenders of international justice have done, to tacitly ignore that. Steps should be taken to better inform Libyan communities of institutional deficiencies in the justice system and widely acknowledged Islamic approaches to doing justice, which most Muslims will readily admit do not condone and in fact strongly condemn unfair trials. But do not be surprised if you come across more than a few Faiza Zubis. She shook her head. “No.”

Zeidan and the future of Libya

In light of the recent election of the new Libyan Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, a long time opponent of Gaddafi, I want to discuss an article from the UN News Centre that I read a month ago, and have been thinking about. Citing “transitional justice and national reconciliation” as one of his two priorities, Zeidan, who has played a key role in support of the political leadership of the ‘rebels’ against the forces of Gaddafi, will hopefully facilitate change in working towards a well-rounded process of achieving transitional justice. The article from Mid-September precisely addressed the need for such a process to manage reconciliation and referred to the then-released UN report by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). In order to set the foundation for a new democratic state, the aftermath of 41 years of autocratic rule followed by civil war and the overthrow of the infamous ruler must be properly dealt with. As the report recommends, the transitional justice strategy must include a “truth-seeking approach,” the provision of a fair legal process and prosecution to those in continued detention, and the consequent reconciliation of victims. Public dialogue on the matter must be established, as well as an entity of official public consultation, and conflicts among specific communities must be addressed. Furthermore, precautions against further human rights violations must be taken, to further restore trust in the minds of the people regarding the progress being made. Only through such a comprehensive and fair approach can the overall causes of the Libyan conflict be repaired, as well as its consequences, in setting up the basis of a healthy and enduring democratic Libya.

(Three links within the text)

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? 

International conflict over the trial of Abdullah al-Senussi

How the ICC Could Still Get Senussi to the Hague (Mark Kersten)

In this post, Mark Kersten writes about how Libya, France, and the ICC each want the trial of Abdullah al-Senussi (a top official in Gaddafi’s regime) to take place in their jurisdiction. The political struggle between the multiple agents talked about in Kersten’s post brings to mind several articles that we read, which discussed how tribunals are about not just retribution, but memory, acknowledgment of the truth, self-empowerment, and the aspiration towards “justice.” All of the above comprise enough motivation for Libya, France, and the ICC to spend an exorbitant amount of resources trying to get legal control of Senussi, making Senussi a very valuable person in a way. I think the political and ethical tension here reflects perfectly how the politics of international justice transcends simple formal punishment to be also about: 1) who has more of a right to charge Senussi 2) the mutual and strong desire of Libya, France, and the ICC to fix the historical record via legal interrogation (to claim power over the knowledge that only Senussi possesses) 3) the way this strife manifests in strained state interactions and 4) the fact that Senussi, despite the high probability that he will ultimately get either a death or life-in-prison sentence regardless of where he is tried, is at the moment a very valuable item socially, economically, and politically.

“The Case for Justice” by ICTJ

This video from the International Center for Transitional Justice makes the “case for justice” by highlighting different examples of countries in transition from violence (e.g. Colombia, Egypt, DRC, Uganda, Cambodia, etc.) and where there are impunity gaps.

  • What arguments does ICTJ make for why justice is necessary?
  • What are the different obstacles to accountability across the cases?
  • How does ICTJ’s conception of “justice” compare to those we discussed in class and in the assigned readings?

Justice News

Here are a few news stories on international justice that caught my attention this week. Feel free to respond with questions and thoughts, or start a new post on one of the individual news stories.


Colombia milita boss ‘Martin Llanos’ confesses murders (BBC)

The Colombia government will soon begin peace negotiations with the FARC rebels who have rivaled the government for territory and power for decades. Justice issues are likely to figure prominently in the negotiations and particularly whether there will be some measure of amnesty to ensure stability and land reform policies for victims. Many parties are guilty of crimes in the Colombian conflict, ranging from leaders of left-wing rebel groups and right-wing paramilitary groups, and government officials. The ICC has Colombia under ‘preliminary investigation’ – the Court and local civil society continue to pressure the government to ensure robust accountability for all parties to the conflict.


No winners in ICC-Libya Standoff (Foreign Policy)

International Criminal Court Debating Where Moammar Gadhafi’s son should be trip (WaPo)

There is increased tension between the ICC and the new transitional government in Libya over who gets to try Saif Gaddafi (son of late Libyan leader Moammar Ghaddafi) and Senussi (former intelligence chief). Libyan authorities claim that are both willing and capable of trying him, which is allowed under the “complementarity” provisions of the Court’s Rome Statute. The former Chief Prosecutor publicly preferred the trial stay in Libya, but it’s up to the ICC judges and not the Prosecutor. Gaddafi and his lawyers prefer an ICC trial, arguing that a fair trial in Libya is not possible and he would also get the death penalty there.

As Kersten argues in his FP article, this is potentially bad for the credibility of both the ICC and the transitional government in Libya.  The article is also a great background piece on on all the turmoil in he ICC-Libya case.


President Uhuru Can’t Face ICC Trial (The Star)

Kenya AG Praises Bensouda, Blasts Ocampo (Capital FM)

Two candidates for Kenya’s upcoming presidential election are facing charges by the ICC – Kenyatta and Ruto. Both, along with two others, are accused of inciting and planning the violence that followed the disputed results in the last presidential election in 2007/2008. While all the accused have so far cooperated with the ICC, the Kenyan government continues to seek a deferral of the cases and challenge whether candidates and potentially a new president should face an international court. Re the first article, state officials have no immunity from prosecution for crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, etc. So a potential President Kenyatta could still face the ICC regardless of what the Kenyan constitution says.


Amnesty Reports Unlawful detentions in Rwanda (VOA News)

The Rwanda government continues to be at odds with international human rights groups who accuse the semi-authoritarian regime of repression in various forms. In this recent report, Amnesty highlights the unlawful practices of torture and illegal detention that the government has allegedly practiced to eliminate threats. Undoubtedly, there are threats to regime stability in Rwanda. But the government continues to act with impunity with regard to serious violations of human rights at home and in neighboring Congo.


UN Decries Impunity for Nepal War Crimes ((AFP)

The HRC just published a report, detailing the crimes and failures of accountability in Nepal’s civil war. is one instance, among many, in which the UN Human Rights Council can pressure states on transitional justice through naming and shaming. Typically, the UN commissions an investigation into abuses and publishes a report of this nature prior to the international community setting up a tribunal or other mechanism.


Congolese warlord Lubanga appeals (News 24)

Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga, was convicted this year by the ICC on child soldiers charges. He is now appealing his sentence whereas the Chief Prosecutor would like a longer sentence. Many believe Lubanga should have also been charged with other serious crimes related to acts of sexual violence and massacres.

Son of Gaddafi to be Tried in Libya

Libya’s Justice Minister has chosen to forgo sending Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to the ICC upon their request.  Libya seeks instead to try him on charges of financial corruption, mureder and rape with his trial commencing as early as this month.  They seek a verdict as early as mid June, saying ” ‘It’s a priority to try him under the Libyan law by Libyan judges on Libyan soil,’ adding that authorities are taking necessary measures to ensure a fair trial.”  This comes in the wake of the ICC, on Wednesday, ordering the Libyan government to comply with their arrest warrant and surrender Gaddafi.

The denial of request for trial by the Libyan government has been met with defiance as Ashour elaborates, “there is no intention to hand him [Saif al-Islam] over to the ICC, and Libyan law is the right system to be used to try Saif Gaddafi”.  It will be interesting to see how the Security council and ICC react to this.

ICC vs. Libya

This past Wednesday the International Criminal Court rejected Libya’s request to postpone the surrender of Gaddafi. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi faces war crimes charges. The ICC had issued a warrant last June for his arrest but Libya has continued to refuse to hand him over claiming that they he should “face justice” at home.  The ICC on the other hand said they have jurisdiction over this case because they issued a warrant last for his arrest. If convicted by the ICC, Gaddafi faces only a prison term but if he is found guilty by Libya court he faces the death penalty. “New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) also believes Saif al-Islam would receive a fairer and safer trial in the Netherlands”.

Libyan Intelligence Chief Captured

During the Libya Conflict, the ICC issued three arrest warrants for the various crimes committed against civilians.  Gaddafi and his son, Saif, had warrants issued for their arrest.  We all know what happened to Gaddafi, and Saif Gaddafi was caputured late last year.  Earlier this week the last of the three was finally apprehended.  THe former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senoussi, who is also Gaddafi’s brother in law, was arrested in Mauritania.

The article in the Washington Post mentioned that there are three parties interested in prosecuting Al-Senoussi: France, Libya, and the ICC.  However there is a slight obstacle that may make it difficult for the ICC to get ahold of him; Mauritania is not a member of the ICC and has no mandate to turn him over to the Court.  The next question is who will prosecute then?  The group Amnesty International is petitioning that he be handed over to the ICC because they claim that Libya has a weak court system.  There is also a chance that the Libyan courts will not grant him a fair trial, and if convicted he will likely be executed.

Reconciliation in Libya

Our class has discussed Reconciliation as a way to bring justice to victims of destructive conflicts.  After the events in Libya, there was a question about how justice would be served in the post-Gaddafi era.  This article from The Tripoli Posts reports on the efforts to make sure that there is a smooth transition to democracy, and that a reconciliation process will occur among Libyans.

The article mentioned that there are many different tribes of people in Libya, something that I had previously unaware of.  Part of the Reconciliation commission’s directive is to help move people back to their homes; many had been displaced during the conflict.  The article suggests that there is perhaps some tension among the different Libyans, possibly having to do with how they were affected by the conflict.  The commission has backing from the UN and seems like it is in a good position to assist the new Libyan government.

NY protestors urge ICC to take custody of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Protestors from several civic advocate groups gathered in front of the New York offices of the International criminal court to demand the ICC take custody of Saif al Islam Gaddafi for his own safety.

In the video, in addition to urging the ICC to take custody of Saif Gaddafi, the activists express their disdain for the United States and NATO involvement in Libya, and criticize the ICC for taking action to primarily prosecute African leaders.

How should Saif Gaddafi be tried for his involvement with his father to suppress the Libyan uprising? Without a fair trial, could he suffer the same fate as his father?

Is the activist’s criticism of NATO and the ICC valid? Are Western powers biased in their mandates?

ICC investigates crimes against humanity in Libya

Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo announced today that the ICC is starting up an investigation on crimes against humanity committed by Gadhafi, his sons and advisors. The ICC will look at the most serious allegations since mid February, when the demonstrations intensified.  This CNN article highlights three interesting points, 1) This is the first time that the ICC investigates crimes as they are occuring. 2) The oppurtunity to investigate in real time was partially made possible by social networks like Facebook. According to Moreno Ocampo this triggered a very quick reaction. 3) Moreno Ocampo also goes out with a warning to the anti-Gadhafi protesters, saying that they also will be hold accountable for criminal activity.

It will be very interesting to see how Gadhafi responds to this announcement.

Nearly 150,000 people are fleeing libya

After checking CNN for news today I was amazed that the headline article was about Libya. I know we blogged about this last week but prior to a few weeks ago I had never heard of Gadaffi or the situation that seems to be rapidly unfolding in Libya. The fact that 150,000 people have been displaced so quickly (and that thousands are continuing to flee the nation) seems unreal. Clearly this country is in for some serious changes very soon but that fact that it is happening so quickly is somewhat amazing to me. I also found it interesting that the article had a quote from a man who said Gadaffi has stolen all of his money. He explained that Libyan soldiers still loyal to Gadaffi had stolen all of his money when he attempted to flee the country. I find it very interesting that the soldiers are robbing the citizens before they flee the nation.

What’s going on in Libya? Good question.

The uprising in Libya follows on the heels of pro-democracy protests in Tunisia and Egypt. But the brutal and violent crackdown on protesters by the Libyan government differentiates this case from others.

Some of Libya’s UN diplomats have broken ranks and accused Gaddafi of genocide, and if not, of committing crimes against humanity that warrant an investigation by the ICC. To be sure, it is not genocide. (This does not diminish the severity or significance of the violence against civilians, but even a cursory reading of the Convention’s definition would demonstrate that this is not genocide.) But the head of the UN human rights commission has called for an investigation into the violence, which could result in some international pressure to hold accountable those who are responsible for ordering and organizing the violence. Keep in mind that Libya is not State Party to the ICC, so any investigation and indictment would have to come by way of referral from the UN Security Council.

And then there’s Gaddafi and his son. First, his son, Saif, made a televised statement the other day that rebuked the protesters, accused outsiders of interfering, and warned of civil war if the government fell. Turns out he also did a PhD at the London School of Economics, and wrote his dissertation on the role of civil society in democratization. Oops! Be careful what you wish for.

Second, Gaddafi is most certainly a nutty but not less dangerous dictator. His regime has been repressive and brutal and internationally he is a friend to many fellow dictators. He is also known for many bizarre things: traveling around with his own personal tent, his bevy of modelesque female bodyguards, and especially his long and non-sensical speeches at home and abroad.  Gaddafi’s speeches to the United Nations in the last few years have been gems. And his speech today was no exception.

While it’s important not to make light of the seriousness of the situation or undermine the call the end violence against civilians, Gaddafi’s antics have been a source of amusement and bewilderment in the international community in the past.

See this SNL video if you want a reprieve from the depressing state of international affairs.

UPDATE: Security Council refers Libya case to the ICC. This is also the first time the United States has voted in favor of UNSC resolution on the ICC.

UPDATE: The Telegraph has an interesting article on why the African mercenaries used by Gaddafi would be ‘immune from prosecution for war crimes.

Also, Kevin Jon Heller, who blogs at Opinio Juris, has two interesting posts on some of the caveats of the UNSC deferral to the ICC: “Can the Security Council define the limits of a “situation”? and “Can the Prosecutor decide not to investigate the Libya situation?”