Accountability is an important step on the road to peace in Libya, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, told the Security Council on Monday.
Fatou Bensouda welcomed the country’s new interim government and other measures to bring long-sought peace and stability in the country, however, she maintained that no peace is possible without accountability for serious crimes committed on its soil.
Respect arrest warrants
Prosecutor Bensouda said that unexecuted warrants of arrest for alleged crimes against humanity or war crimes, delay the process of justice, undermine accountability and ultimately prevent closure for victims.
ICC warrants must be “executed in a timely fashion”, she said.
However, noting that two alleged criminals had died before being arrested, she acknowledged that warrants are a stumbling block as those fugitives will now never face justice.
The chief prosecutor also said that some believed to have committed grave crimes in Libya continue to escape justice, including Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli, who allegedly executed 43 civilians as specified in two arrest warrants.
“The unwillingness of those in power in eastern Libya to transfer Mr. Al-Werfalli to the Court… has contributed to a climate of impunity”, she said, calling on Libya to investigate and provide the relevant information to the ICC.
If confirmed, those murders constitute “a tragic example” of perpetrators escaping accountability for the most serious of crimes but “will not stop the ongoing investigation of the situation in Libya”.
At the same time, she reminded that a warrant for the “wilful fugitive of justice” Said Gaddafi, was still outstanding, and stressed the Libya continues to be under legal obligation to arrest and surrender him to the Court for trial.
“Justice delayed is justice denied”, she underscored.
Politics and justice
The Prosecutor pointed to crimes committed by armed groups in the country, including the “violent silencing of public critics” as a method to terrorise the civilian population.
She spoke of “concerning information” about the activities of mercenaries and foreign fighters in the country and emphasised that their crimes may fall under the jurisdiction of the Court, “no matter the nationality of the persons involved”.
Ms. Bensouda thanked those who have supported the ICC’s mandate while also noting that when “the machination of politics have attempted to interfere with the course of justice”, problems ensue.
For the sake of present and future generations, the Court must be allowed to work without impediment, she stressed.
She reminded the Council of the high and independent calibre of ICC investigations and requested better levels of support.
Ms. Bensouda noted that the finding of mass graves in the city of Tarhuna have yielded good discussions with national judicial authorities, and strengthened ongoing efforts have helped improve cooperation with national authorities and partners on the ground, “opening much needed opportunities for the preservation and the collection of evidence for future prosecutions”, she said.
She advocated for working jointly with the Security Council to advance accountability and international rule of law for atrocity crimes along with the peaceful settlement of disputes, which she said was central to the UN’s founding principles.
“My office will continue to deliver its mandate independently and impartially in Libya as it does in all situations where we have jurisdiction”, concluded the Ms. Bensouda.