ICC: Libya will be top priority in 2017 including extremists
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The International Criminal Court is committed to making Libya a priority next year and expanding investigations, potentially including alleged serious crimes by the extremist Islamic State group and its affiliates, the prosecutor said Wednesday.
Fatou Bensouda told the U.N. Security Council that her commitment is the result of a number of factors: widespread violence, lawlessness and impunity in many areas, a desire to provide justice for victims, and alleviating the suffering of civilians “who continue to endure the tragic consequences of the conflict in Libya.”
She said her office intends to apply for new arrest warrants “under seal as soon as practicable and hopes to have new arrest warrants served in the near future.”
Bensouda said the ICC also intends to study the feasibility of opening an investigation into alleged criminal acts against refugees and migrants in Libya, “including any alleged acts of sexual violence or crimes against children” that come under the court’s jurisdiction.
The ICC is already engaging with agencies investigating individuals involved in organized crime and facilitating and financing illegal migration through Libya, she said.
The overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 has spawned chaos in Libya. The power and security vacuum left the country a breeding ground for militias and militants including the IS group and al-Qaida affiliates — and it has made Libya a gateway for thousands of migrants from Africa and elsewhere seeking to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.
Since 2014, Libya has been split between rival governments and parliaments based in the western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias and tribes. A U.N.-brokered deal in December to create a unity government has failed because the U.N.-backed government has been unable to win the endorsement of Libya’s internationally recognized Parliament, which is a prerequisite to assume power.
“The situation continues to deteriorate and innocent civilians continue to bear the brunt of the fighting between the warring factions vying for control of Libyan territory,” Bensouda said. “The current state of affairs, in which civilians are victimized, is completely unacceptable.”
The prosecutor again urged the Libyan government to do everything possible to have Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the late dictator’s son, handed over to the ICC. The court issued an arrest warrant for Gadhafi in 2011 on preliminary charges of crimes against humanity, murder and persecution for being part of the inner circle of his father’s regime, which used lethal force against demonstrators in 2011.
She said Gadhafi remains in Zintan, which is controlled by a militia opposed to the U.N.-backed government of national accord.