In May 2011 Chief Prosecutor of International Criminal Court Tells Security Council He Will Seek Arrest Warrants Soon against Three Individuals in First Libya Case
Says Credible Evidence Indicates up to 700 Killed in February Alone; ‘Such
Atrocities Seared the Human Conscience’, Says Member, Lauding Referral to Court
The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court told the Security Council today that he planned to seek arrest warrants in the coming weeks against three Libyans who appeared to bear “the greatest criminal responsibility” for crimes against humanity committed during Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi’s brutal, months-long crackdown against the anti-Government uprising in the North African country.
Briefing the Council on the initial results of his investigation, launched following the 15-member body’s unanimous 26 February decision to refer the situation in Libya to the Court, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo laid out evidence in support of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including shooting peaceful demonstrators, as well as ongoing violent repression and systematic persecutions, together with murder, imprisonment, rape and torture. Reporting that civilians had been used as human shields and targeted with heavy weapons and cluster munitions, he also said that Libyan forces had blocked delivery of humanitarian supplies.
“The evidence collected has confirmed the fears and concerns expressed in [Security Council] resolution 1970,” he said, noting that two months ago the body had deplored the “gross and systematic violation of human rights”. The evidence collected thus far had also revealed that events in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia had promoted Libyan security forces to begin preparations for the possibility of demonstrations there. “As early as January, mercenaries were being hired and brought into Libya,” he said.
While he acknowledged that efforts to cover up the crimes committed in the wake of the popular uprising made it difficult to ascertain the precise number of victims, he told the Council that there was credible information that estimated that some 500 to 700 persons had been killed in February alone when Libyan security forces had fired live ammunition at demonstrators gathered in Benghazi’s High Court Square.
The difficulty of obtaining concrete figures on the number of dead was compounded by the fact that countless bodies had been removed from the streets and hospitals of Benghazi, Misrata and elsewhere. Doctors were not allowed to document the number of dead and injured admitted to their care, and many people were afraid to report incidents to the authorities: “Being injured became evidence of opposing the regime, and challenging the authority of the regime is a crime under Libyan law,” he said.
Providing no names for those who would be the subject of the arrest warrants, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo stressed that, in all the incidents he would present to the judges at the Hague-based Court, the victims who had been shot at by security forces had been unarmed civilians, and there was no evidence of any attack against security forces. “To prove the case, the Office [of the Prosecutor] has collected different types of evidence: there are at least two eyewitnesses for each incident, documents and, in many cases, corroboration of details by pictures or videos,” he said. Cases would be opened as necessary, taking into account the full scope of criminality — including war crimes — allegedly committed by different individuals. He would inform the Council in advance before proceeding.
He said that arresting those who had ordered the commission of crimes would contribute to the protection of Libyan civilians because it would deter ongoing crimes, remove those who had ordered them, and send a serious message to other potential perpetrators, in Libya and elsewhere, that the international community would not condone such acts. Mr. Ocampo capped his briefing with a quote from a speech delivered by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the recent review of the Rome Statute in Kampala, Uganda: “‘Now we have the [International Criminal Court], permanent, increasingly powerful, casting a long shadow. There is no going back. In this new age of accountability, those who commit the worst of human crimes will be held accountable.’”
All members of the Council took the floor, expressing their appreciation for the speed with which Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s Office had launched its investigation and the diligence shown by Court officials and staff thus far. The representative of the United States said that as the investigations continued, it was important for the international community to remain united in its efforts to protect civilians and areas under civilian control. The United States supported the Prosecutor’s swift work on the mandate given to him by the Council, and considered that the outcome was “serious and imminent, and should warn those around Qadhafi about the perils of continuing to tie their fate to his”, she said.
While the representative of the Russian federation emphasized that his Government was concerned by the mounting civilian casualties and ongoing violence in Libya, he said it was unfortunate to note that some civilian deaths had occurred as a result of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strikes. He, therefore, stressed that all parties must ensure the safety of civilians and that all actions must be carried out in strict compliance with resolution 1973 (2011). Going beyond the ambit of that resolution was “unacceptable”.
The representative of France, whose delegation holds the Council’s rotating presidency for the month, said that, when a Government attacked its citizens instead of protecting them, “such atrocities seared the human conscience”. In referring the situation in Libya to the Court, the Council had taken an important, informed decision so that those responsible for such crimes would be prosecuted. The judicial process must continue. While the Court would prosecute those who organized, ordered or financed crimes, there was still time for those who had been misguided to disassociate themselves from that campaign.
Also speaking were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, India, Gabon, Brazil, Colombia, China, Nigeria, South Africa, Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 11:30 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Libya and was expected to hear a briefing by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on his initial report of the investigations carried out under Council resolution 1970 (2011). (For details of a briefing yesterday on that situation by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Libya, see Press Release SC/10240.)
Briefing by Prosecutor of International Criminal Court
LUIS MORENO-OCAMPO, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, introduced his Office’s report on activities in furtherance of resolution 1970 (2011), which stressed the need to “hold to account those responsible for attacks, including by forces under their control, on civilians”. The report presented the factual and legal analysis conducted by the Office to implement that referral. An investigation had been opened on 3 March, requiring his Office to apply the norms established by the Rome Statute: to establish the truth on crimes alleged to have been committed in Libya, through an independent and impartial investigation.
To that end, he said, his Office had conducted more than 15 missions to 10 States, and, as of 26 April, had initiated or completed 45 interviews with individuals with direct knowledge of crimes committed and had collected and reviewed more than 569 documents. The Prosecution had taken no statement inside Libya to fulfil its duty to protect its witnesses. Noting that cooperation received from States, regional and other international organizations had been critical to the “fast progress” of the investigation, he noted also that the Commission of Inquiry created by the Human Rights Council had been cooperating with his Office and had indicated its willingness to continue to do so.
Indeed, he said, the Commission was in the process of preparing its report to the Human Rights Council, which was to be completed by May. The Court was looking forward to that report and having access to the data it compiled, which would be very useful to the Prosecution for future action. “We are discussing with the Commission Chair the difficulties to unveil the truth while an armed conflict is ongoing and the importance of the Commission’s field activities,” he added.
“The evidence collected has confirmed the fears and concerns expressed in resolution 1970,” he continued, noting that two months ago the Security Council had expressed “grave concern at the situation in Libya” and had deplored the “gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators”. The evidence collected thus far established reasonable grounds to believe that the widespread and systematic attacks, including murder and persecution, which had been and continued to be committed against the civilian population in Libya, were crimes against humanity. Additionally, and since February, there had been an armed conflict in Libya and, in that context, there was also relevant information on alleged commission of war crimes. The Commission of Inquiry would be very crucial to fully understand the armed conflict, he added.
Continuing, he described for Council members the incidence of crimes against humanity investigated by his Office thus far, and noted that the evidence showed that security forces had been systematically shooting at peaceful protestors, following the same modus operandi in multiple locations. The evidence also showed that events in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia had promoted Libyan security forces to begin preparations for the possibility of demonstrations there. “As early as January, mercenaries were being hired and brought into Libya.” The incidents had begun on 15 and 16 February. Security forces had arrested two lawyers who were requesting justice for the 1,400 victims of the 1996 Abu Salim prison massacres. On 17 February, thousands of peaceful demonstrators protesting those arrests had congregated in the square around the High Court of Benghazi. Security forces had entered the square and reportedly fired live ammunition into the crowd, killing numerous demonstrators. That had been the beginning of a series of similar incidents in different cities across Libya.
“The efforts to cover up the crimes have made it difficult to ascertain the precise number of victims, but there is credible information that estimates that, just as the result of such shootings, 500 to 700 persons died in February alone,” he said, noting that the difficulty was compounded by the fact that numbers of bodies had been removed from the streets and hospitals. Additionally, doctors had not been allowed to document the number of dead and injured admitted to their care. “Being injured became evidence of opposing the regime, and challenging the authority of the regime is a crime under Libyan law,” he said. Moreover, to avoid punishment and risk of death, some protestors had sought medical attention in private homes and did not bring injured or dead persons to the hospitals.
He went on to report that the investigation had revealed that civilians in Tripoli and other areas under the regime’s control were reportedly subjected to different forms of persecution. Systematic arrests, torture and killings and enforced disappearances had been reported in Tripoli, Zawiyah, Zintan and the area of the Nafousa Mountains. The victims were civilians who had participated in the demonstrations, were considered disloyal to the regime or had talked to international journalists or activists. “In addition, citizens of Egypt and Tunisia were arrested and expelled en masse because of their perceived association with the popular uprising; the mosques they prayed in were destroyed,” he said.
Continuing to lay out the evidence, Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo said that there was also relevant information concerning the alleged commission of rape; victims of rape had reportedly been arrested and subjected to harassment. In one high-profile case, a woman had given a report to international media of how she had been raped by security forces because of her suspected association with rebels, and his Office was investigating those allegations. Sources had also reported the unlawful arrest, mistreatment and killing of sub-Saharan African civilians wrongly perceived to be mercenaries.
In all that, he said, specific allegations of war crimes included the use of imprecise weaponry, such as cluster munitions, multiple rocket launchers and mortars, and other forms of heavy weaponry, in crowded urban areas, in particular, Misrata. There were also reports of forces blocking humanitarian supplies, and some sources had also reported the use of civilians as human shields and the torture of prisoners of war or civilians in the context of the armed conflict. The total number of persons who had died since the beginning of the conflict “is in the thousands”, while the numbers of displaced, according to the United Nations, included some 535,000 migrant workers, refugees and asylum-seekers, and 327,342 internally displaced Libyans.
Explaining his Office’s next steps, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said that, in accordance with the Rome Statute, in the coming weeks he planned to present a case before the pretrial chamber of the International Criminal Court. Implementing the mandate established by Security Council resolution 1970 (2011), he said: “I plan to request the judges to issue arrest warrants against three individuals who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes against humanity committed in the territory of Libya since 15 February 2011.”
In all the incidents to be presented to the judges, the victims who had been shot at by security forces had been unarmed civilians, and there was no evidence of any attack against security forces, he said. “To prove the case, the Office has collected different types of evidence: there are at least two eyewitnesses for each incident, documents and, in many cases, corroboration of details by pictures or videos,” he said. Cases would be opened as necessary, taking into account the full scope of criminality — including war crimes — allegedly committed by different individuals. He would inform the Council in advance before proceeding.
He said that the pretrial chamber might decide to accept the application or reject it; or it might ask his Office for additional information. Should the judges decide to issue arrest warrants, the primary responsibility of executing them would fall to the territorial authorities. The Interim National Council had committed itself to implementing any such warrants, and had requested the international community’s cooperation to that end. His Office was still awaiting a response from the regime in Tripoli on the question of arrest warrants.
“Arresting those who ordered the commission of crimes will contribute to the protection of civilians in Libya because it will deter ongoing crimes,” he continued, adding that it would also deter crimes by removing those who had ordered them and by sending a serious message to other potential perpetrators, in Libya and elsewhere, that the international community would not condone such crimes. Arrests could not successfully be conducted without serious planning and preparation, which took time. The international community should take steps now to help with such practical planning.
He ended his briefing with a quote from a speech delivered by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the recent review of the Rome Statute in Kampala, Uganda: “‘Now we have the [International Criminal Court], permanent, increasingly powerful, casting a long shadow. There is no going back. In this new age of accountability, those who commit the worst of human crimes will be held accountable.’”
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said that when resolution 1970 (2011) was adopted, the Council had stressed the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks on civilians, and his Government was grateful for the Prosecutor’s work to implement that text. Indeed, the situation in Libya had demanded such decisive action, as the report had noted systematic shooting at protesters; the death of hundreds or even thousands of protestors; and commission of massive crimes on the order of a few. Despite repeated promises of a ceasefire, Libyan authorities continued their appalling attacks and an excessive use of force, as had been seen in Misrata with intensified rocket attacks, where hundreds had landed in civilian areas, disrupting water and other supplies. That represented an ongoing campaign to disrupt Misrata.
Others had highlighted the deliberate targeting of medical facilities, denial of humanitarian activities and use of sexual violence as a weapon, he said, noting: “We, as the international community, must continue to support you in investigating these allegations.” The United Kingdom would assist such work wherever possible and all United Nations Member States should do the same. Those holding power in Libya must fulfil their obligations under resolution 1970 (2011) and swiftly hand over any individual who might be indicted.
As a State party to the International Criminal Court, the United Kingdom strongly supported its mandate to find impunity in Libya and elsewhere, including Syria, he said. “There can be no impunity,” he stressed, supporting the Secretary-General’s call to look into the killings in Syria and be prepared to consider various avenues, including through the Court, to investigate those crimes. It was not too late for Syria to bring about peace and stability.
PETER WITTIG ( Germany), fully supporting the Court’s actions in Libya, said the perpetrators of alleged crimes in that country must be made to answer for their actions and justice must be rendered. In adopting resolution 1970 (2011) and deciding to refer the situation in Libya to the Court, the Council had been far-sighted. The resolution was based on the protection of civilians, a primary duty borne by each State. That was the second message contained in that resolution, the importance of which transcended Libya. “Violence must stop as soon as possible in Libya and a solid ceasefire must be reached” to allow for the possibility of reaching a political solution. The Doha and Cairo meetings had contributed considerably to solutions beyond military actions, and it was important to involve all parties in the political process. The Qadhafi regime had lost its legitimacy and a new Government would work to open Libya to democracy, which would require national reconciliation and clarity about the injustices committed.
Welcoming that the Prosecutor’s investigation was being carried out with due caution for witness protection, he said initial progress had been encouraging and Germany attached the greatest importance to justice being done as quickly as possible for the victims. Those continuing serious crimes in Libya must know that the Council, the United Nations and the Court, together if necessary, would ensure that crimes under international law would not go unpunished. Cooperation with the Court was essential to shed light on the alleged crimes in Libya, he said, urging the country to undertake its obligations under resolution 1970 (2011) and cooperate with the Court. Serious human rights violations were still the “order of the day”. Condemning the use of rape, torture and cluster weapons against civilians, he demanded that all parties to the conflict observe international humanitarian law. The situation in Misrata remained worrying, and Germany had provided $700,000 to support transport of humanitarian aid to that city.
JOÃO MARIA CABRAL ( Portugal) said his Government remained very troubled by the humanitarian situation in Libya, as serious violations of international humanitarian law continued, including alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes. Portugal also was disturbed by recent statements by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, among others, referring to those breaches and to serious human rights violations. Given that situation, a political solution was becoming “all the more pressing” and a sustainable, verifiable ceasefire must be achieved.
He stressed the importance of justice as a fundamental value and inherent part of the process to bring peace to victimized communities. The international community had an essential role in punishing perpetrators and preventing the escalation of violence. Expressing full support for the Prosecutor’s investigation, he said cooperation with the Court was essential for the success of the investigations and criminal proceedings. Commending the Prosecutor for exercising the utmost caution in not placing at risk those providing testimonies, he also welcomed the Human Rights Council’s international Commission of Inquiry in Libya, saying that the Prosecutor should closely liaise with that body. He expressed Portugal’s support for the Court.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India), noting that his country was not a signatory to the Rome Statute or a member of the Court, recalled that, in its explanation of vote on resolution 1970 (2011), his Government had noted that of the 192 United Nations Member States only 114 were members of the Court. Five of the 15 Council members, including three permanent members, were not party to the Statute. Nonetheless, India had voted in favour of the resolution in the belief that referral of the Libyan situation would lead to an immediate cessation of violence.
Unfortunately, that situation continued to deteriorate, he said, expressing serious concern at recent developments and condemning the use of force against civilians. He reiterated India’s call to immediately cease attacks on civilians and engage in political dialogue. Noting that the Prosecutor had decided there were reasonable grounds to conclude that war crimes had been committed, and that he would soon submit the first arrest warrant, he said the Prosecutor should carry out an impartial investigation and not be influenced by non-judicial considerations. “Political considerations should not exonerate anyone from the prosecution of crimes,” he stressed, citing the resolution’s operative paragraph 6 concerning States not party to the Rome Statute.
NELSON MESSONE ( Gabon) said his delegation appreciated the Prosecutor’s briefing and the clear conclusions reached on the path of the Court’s investigation. He also noted the difficulties affecting any investigations being carried out in situations of armed conflict. He reiterated his Government’s staunch opposition to any form of impunity and its equally staunch support of all efforts to protect and promote human rights and to keep citizens from harm. In that light, Gabon remained gravely concerned by the events in Libya and would stress that the aims of Security Council resolution 1970 (2011) be carried out to the fullest.
He also called on all parties to cooperate with the Court’s investigators and specifically for the Government to not impede that work. He welcomed the initial cooperation between the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. He called on all States to cooperate with those bodies to ensure that all those responsible for the crisis in Libya would be brought to justice.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said her delegation was deeply concerned by the continuation of hostilities in Libya, and she called for an immediate ceasefire, in line with Security Council resolution 1973 (2011), leading to the end of hostilities and the establishment of a representative Government for the Libyan people. As the situation on the ground continued to deteriorate, such a course of action was more urgent than ever.
She said Brazil was also deeply concerned by the continued targeting of civilians, including reports of, among others, forced disappearance and rape. Those perpetrating such acts must cease all violence against civilians. As developments on the ground unfolded, Brazil hoped the work of the International Criminal Court would have a positive impact, leading to the cessation of all violence and contributing to the achievement of a durable peace. The Chief Prosecutor’s investigations must be thorough, transparent and impartial, and she urged all parties in Libya to cooperate with the Court.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said the Council had adopted resolution 1970 (2011) out of serious concern that actions being perpetrated in Libya had led to widespread casualties among civilians. The Prosecutor’s briefing, outlining the steps of his investigation into those actions, had been encouraging. It had also made clear that the aims of resolution 1973 (2011), calling for an immediate ceasefire and finding a political solution to the crisis, were vitally important.
Yet, he said, the Russian Federation was still concerned by developments on the ground, and unfortunately, actions by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces had also led to civilian casualties. In that regard, the Russian Federation stressed that all actions must be carried out in strict compliance with 1973 (2011). Going beyond the ambit of that resolution was unacceptable. His delegation appreciated the work of the Court to bring to justice individuals alleged to have perpetrated war crimes.
NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) said those who had drawn up the Rome Statue were aware that the new body was not going to operate in a vacuum and that its work was bound to overlap with the efforts to maintain international peace and security. As such, the Security Council had been charged with reporting certain instances of breach of international law to the Court. The investigation, as presented today, revealed that armed repression of innocent civilians and deliberate targeting of peaceful demonstrators fell within the purview of the Court.
He said that those responsible for such actions must be made to answer for them. “We believe that the work carried out by the [International Criminal Court] regarding the situation in Libya was of the utmost importance towards the full implementation of 1970 and deserves our full support,” he said. It was clear that the Court and the Chief Prosecutor had been thorough and diligent in carrying out the mandate charged to them under resolution 1970 (2011).
LI BAODONG ( China), attaching great importance to the fight against impunity, said the pursuit of justice should be based on the core values of peace and harmony. Indeed, the crisis in Libya showed no signs of abating — the humanitarian situation continued to worsen and the civilian population continued to suffer. He called for complete and strict implementation of Council resolutions, saying also that the international community must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya.
At the same time, he said, his country did not favour arbitrary interpretation of Council resolutions or actions that went beyond the Council’s mandate. Noting the importance of establishing a ceasefire monitoring system under United Nations auspices, he said negotiations were the right way forward to find a political solution to the situation in Libya. Endorsing the five-point road map proposed by the African Union, he said the Council must play a lead role in resolving the crisis. Further, the Special Envoy should play a stronger role on the political track. At the same time, China wished to see the Court weigh properly the unfolding events and play a positive role in restoring peace and order to that country.
KIO SOLOMON AMIEYEOFORI ( Nigeria) said the fight for justice and against impunity was at the heart of the values shared by most Member States. As a State party to the Rome Statute, Nigeria supported the Court. The situation in Libya posed a major test for the Court as an indispensable tool in collective conflict resolution efforts. The first article of the United Nations Charter charged the Council with taking collective measures to remove threats to peace, and in that regard, he welcomed the Prosecutor’s report, calling it “measured” and “logical” in its approach to the investigation into charges of human rights violations. Its factual analysis provided a picture of the extent of violations endured by Libyans. The evidence presented made even stronger the case for the Court’s investigation. Indeed, the systematic nature of the attacks against civilians and attempts to conceal those crimes warranted rigorous investigation.
Resolving the crisis required that resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011) operated together, as they were complementary and reinforcing, he said, which was why efforts of the Special Envoy and the Libyan Contact Group, among others, were recognized. All such activities were central to facilitating dialogue. It was important that the Prosecutor’s activities were calibrated to support efforts to find a peaceful solution. It also was essential that justice was pursued in a manner that did not jeopardize efforts to promote lasting peace. The Prosecutor’s team must hold to high evidentiary standards and maintain independence. Regarding the fate of sub-Saharan Africans, he urged the Prosecutor to ensure that their cases were handled according to due process. It was difficult to see how justice would be served without international cooperation. The Court’s involvement should further international efforts to achieve lasting peace in Libya.
DOCTOR MASHABANE ( South Africa) said his Government’s support for the Court was based on respect for the international fight against impunity. As a State party to the Rome Statute, South Africa would support the Prosecutor’s work on the situation in Libya. Expressing concern at the alleged crimes against civilians, he noted that the standard of proof for initiating an investigation was less than what was required for successful prosecution. The Prosecutor should “leave no stone unturned” in finding those who had committed atrocities, and examine abuses committed on either side of the conflict.
Indeed, he said, crimes might have been committed by the Government and opposition forces, and all crimes, regardless of the perpetrators, should be considered. Noting that questions had been asked about the implementation of resolution 1970 (2011), he said that operative paragraph 6 established a caveat designed to exclude the Court’s jurisdiction. But that caveat was limited to actions authorized by the Council. Actions outside the scope of resolution 1970 (2011) should not benefit from the protection offered by that caveat. In sum, he assured the Prosecutor of South Africa’s continued cooperation with the Court.
SUSAN RICE (United States) said that by adopting resolution 1970 (2011), the Council had unanimously decided to refer the situation in Libya to the Court’s Prosecutor, reflecting the importance the international community attached to ensuring that those responsible for widespread attacks against innocent civilians in Libya were held responsible. The Prosecutor had described a grave picture of the situation on the ground since the beginning of the crisis three months ago, including the targeting of innocent civilians, repression of peaceful demonstrations, use of heavy weapons and cluster munitions in crowded urban areas and the blocking of humanitarian supplies, all revealing the gravity of what was going in Libya even today.
She said international reports of ongoing widespread attacks by the Qadhafi regime were proof of the ongoing need for justice and accountability. They also revealed what had been reiterated by the United States and other Governments for months: Qadhafi had lost any and all legitimacy to lead Libya. As the Court’s investigations continued, it was important for the international community to remain united in its efforts to protect civilians and areas under civilian control.
The United States supported the Prosecutor’s swift work on the mandate given to him by the Council, and it considered that the outcome was “serious and imminent, and should warn those around Qadhafi about the perils of continuing to tie their fate to his”, she said. Tomorrow, members of the international community would gather in Rome to weigh solutions in an effort to help lay the groundwork for a political process that would answer to and respect the legitimate rights of the Libyan people. The United States would continue to discuss such measures with its allies and colleagues. It would also continue to support the Libyan people, who deserved a leader that respected their legitimate aspirations and human rights. “Through his brutal oppression”, it was clear that Qadhafi was not that leader.
NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon) reminded the Council that the League of Arab States had earlier condemned the acts on the ground in Libya as violations of human rights and international law. Lebanon was deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Libya being carried out by the country’s discredited regime, including continued persecution of civilians and their targeting with heavy weapons and cluster munitions.
He said Lebanon was also concerned by the initial reports that had been issued by the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He emphasized the importance of holding responsible those hindering the Libyan people from exercising their legitimate rights. Lebanon believed that the work of the Court and its Chief Prosecutor would be a deterrent to the commission of future crimes. That work would also help ease the suffering of the Libyan people and promote the return of peace, stability and security to their country.
IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina), citing the report’s mention of serious and constant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as a deteriorating situation marked by systemic violence against civilians, strongly condemned such violence. He expressed grave concern at the reported crimes and the manner in which they were committed, saying that only reinforced his belief that referral of the Libyan situation to the Court was in line with the Council’s obligations. After two months of investigation, the Prosecutor had found evidence of incidents that constituted alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Addressing such crimes and punishing those responsible was “beyond any doubt” the main precondition for reconciliation and sustainable peace, he said, stressing: “Impunity is not an option and I am certain that we all can agree on that.” For those reasons, full implementation of resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011) was of utmost importance; obligations deriving from those texts were not optional. Condemnation of grave atrocities placed under the Court’s jurisdiction was unanimous. Bosnia and Herzegovina remained committed to the ideals and goals of the Court.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said that when a Government attacked civilians instead of protecting them and such atrocities “seared the human conscience”, the international community had the responsibility to intervene and protect civilians. Faced with abuses by Libyan authorities, the Arab League and the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) had condemned grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1970 (2011), had referred the situation to the Court. In his report, the Prosecutor had confirmed the Council’s fears: that attacks launched against peaceful demonstrators had been systematic and widespread. Civilians suspected of participating in demonstrations had been abducted and tortured.
Indeed, it was not military targets but rather civilian populations that were the priority, he said, citing attacks against hospitals and ports to hinder evaluation of civilians. In referring the situation to the Court, the Council had taken an important, informed decision so that those responsible for crimes would be prosecuted. The judicial process must continue. While the Court would prosecute those who organized, ordered or financed crimes, there was still time for those who had been misguided to disassociate themselves from that campaign. France welcomed the fact that States and regional organizations had offered their full cooperation to the Prosecutor. In the future, the Council would have to support the judges’ decisions in a “united and determined” manner.
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