Coalition for the International Criminal Court
Follow Us: Facebook Twitter
Browse by Region
map Americas Africa Asia and Pacific Europe Middle East and North Africa
The situation in Libya is the International Criminal Court's (ICC) sixth investigation. To date, three arrests warrants have been issued in this investigation: against Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi.

Stay up to date by signing up for email updates on the Libya situation (and follow us on Twitter and Facebook).

The formal investigation into the situation in Libya was opened by the ICC Prosecutor on 3 March 2011, following a preliminary examination of available information. The prosecutor's announcement came after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 1970 (2011) on 26 February 2011, which referred the situation in Libya, a state not party to the Rome Statute, to the ICC. It was the second time that a situation was referred to the Court by the UNSC under its Chapter VII authority and the first time such a resolution was passed unanimously.

The ICC Presidency assigned the situation to Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) I. The Chamber is currently composed of Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert (Belgium), Judge Hans-Peter Kaul (Germany), and Judge Silvia Fernandez Gurmendi (Argentina).

Arrest warrants issued
On 27 June 2011, following an application by the prosecutor, PTC I issued warrants of arrest for Libyan leader Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, his son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, Libyan government spokesman, and Abdullah Al-Senussi, Director of Military Intelligence, for alleged crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) committed in Libya from 15 February until at least 28 February 2011.

On 22 November 2011, PTC I decided to terminate the case against Muammar Gaddafi following his death.

On 19 November 2011, Saif Gaddafi was arrested by Libyan authorities. On 17 March 2012, Al-Senussi was arrested in Mauritania. He was.extradicted to Libya on 5 September 2012.

ICC staff detained
On 7 June 2012 four ICC staff members were detained in Zintan, Libya, while undertaking a mission authorized by ICC judges and approved by the interim Libyan government to visit with Saif Qaddafi. The four were released on 2 July 2012.

Libya challenges ICC jurisdiction over cases
On 23 January 2012, Libya submitted confidential observations on the arrest and detention of Safi Gaddafi following a request from PTC I on 6 December 2011. On 4 April 2012, PTC I reiterated its order that Libya must immediately surrender Saif Gaddafi to the Court. An appeal by Libya against this order was dismissed by the Appeals Chamber on 25 April 2012.

On 2 February 2012, PTC I rejected applications for leave to submit amicus curiae observations by Mishana Hosseinioun and Aisha Gaddafi, as well as their subsequent requests for leave to appeal. The applicants also appealed directly to the Appeals Chamber on issues of jurisdiction and admissibility.

On 1 May 2012, Libya challenged the admissibility of the cases before the Court and on 1 June 2012, PTC I postponed the obligation to arrest Saif Gaddafi pending the outcome of the admissibility challenge.

On 8-9 October 2012, PTC I held a public hearing to discuss Libya’s challenge to the admissibility of the cases.

On 6 February 2013, PTC I decided that Libya was still under an obligation to surrender Al-Senussi to the Court. However, the Chamber postponed the obligation to surrender Saif Gaddafi until it had decided on Libya’s May 2012 challenge to ICC jurisdiction in the case.

On 17 April 2013, PTC I granted a request by the Office of the Public Counsel for Defence (OPCD), that it be relinquished from its court-appointed representation of Saif Gaddafi citing “an imminent depletion in staffing.” John Jones QC was appointed in place of the OPCD.

On 2 April 2013, Libya filed an admissibility challenge to the ICC case against Al-Senussi, citing ongoing domestic investigations into alleged crimes by him in Libya.

Saif Gaddafi case ruled admissible before ICC
On 31 May 2013, PTC I rejected Libya’s challenge to the admissibility of the case against Saif Gaddafi before the ICC and ordered his surrender. PTC I concluded that Libya’s domestic investigation did not sufficiently cover the alleged crimes included in the ICC case. Judges recognized Libya’s efforts to restore the rule of law, but stressed that it continues to face difficulties in exercising its judicial powers, including the ability to secure Gaddafi into state custody. Libya has since appealed the decision; however the obligation to surrender Gaddafi remains in place during the appeal of the admissibility decision.

On 18 July 2013, the Appeals Chamber rejected Libya’s request to suspend the surrender of Saif Gaddafi to the Court while a final decision is pending on its challenge to the admissibility of case. In May, PTC I had decided Gaddafi must be transferred and tried at the ICC. On 23 July 2013, Gaddafi’s defense requested PTC I to find that Libya has failed to cooperate by deliberately refusing to surrender him to the Court and to refer the matter to the UN Security Council.

Al-Senussi case ruled inadmissible before ICC
On 11 October 2013, PTC I ruled that the case against Al-Senussi was inadmissible before the ICC on the basis that Libyan authorities are both willing and able to effectively prosecute him. This was the first time that judges have found in favor of a government challenge to ICC jurisdiction over a case. Al-Senussi has appealed and requested that the decision be suspended pending a final outcome.

Prosecutor calls on Libya to give Al-Senussi a fair trial
On 14 November 2013, the ICC prosecutor delivered the OTP’s sixth report on the situation in Libya to the UN Security Council. In her statement, Bensouda said that her office found no legal basis to appeal the decision finding the ICC case against Al-Senussi inadmissible, and called upon Libya to demonstrate that he would receive a fair trial. The prosecutor also informed the Council that the OTP and Libya signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate collaborate efforts to investigate grave crimes allegedly committed in Libya.

Appeals Chamber rejects request to suspend domestic proceedings against Al-Senussi
On 22 November, judges of the Appeals Chamber rejected a request made by Al-Senussi's defense to suspend Libya's domestic proceedings against Al-Senussi pending the resolution of an appeal against the 11 October 2013 decision finding the ICC's case against Al-Senussi inadmissible.

Saif Gaddafi defense asks for finding of Libyan non-compliance with transfer order
On 25 November 2013, defense counsel representing Saif Gaddafi before the ICC issued a press release which condemned the Libyan government for failing to comply with its obligation to transfer Gaddafi to the ICC and asked the ASP to "affirm their commitment to the founding principles of the Rome Statute, and to deprecate any attempt to subvert the ability of the ICC to make a lasting contribution to peace and justice through the promulgation of independent and impartial decisions. The defense also requested that the president of the ASP put Libyan non-compliance with the Court on the agenda for its 12th session.

On 9 December 2013, Gaddafi's defense counsel asked the judges of PTC I to issue a finding of non-compliance regarding Libya's failure to transfer Gaddafi to the Court.

Libya denies domestic trial have begun
On 8 May 2014, the Libyan government informed ICC judges that national trials of Gaddafi and Al-Senussi had yet to begin.

Appeals Chamber confirms admissibility of Gaddafi case before ICC
On 21 May 2014 the Appeals Chamber confirmed the admissibility of the Gaddafi case before the ICC. The Chamber concluded that PTC I judges had not erred in finding that Libya had not sufficiently proven that its national investigation covers the same case as the one before the ICC.
Audio Visual Resources
Author Title Date
International Crisis Group
18638|18639 26 July 2012
Author Date and Title
Human Rights Watch
23 Jan 2012
Libya: Q&A on the ICC and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
22 Aug 2011
ICC Prosecutor talks to Transitional National Council in Libya
Government and Inter-governmental Documents
Author Date and Title
EU Council
23 July 2012
Council conclusions on Libya, 3183rd FOREIG AFFAIRS Council meeting
European Union
19 June 2012
Statement by High Representative Catherine Ashton on the arrest and detention of four staff members of the ICC in Libya
UN Security Council
15 June 2012
Security Council Press Statement on International Criminal Court Staff Detained in Libya
Barbara Lochbihler, Committee on Human Rights, European Parliament
11 June 2012
Lochbihler - The arrest of the ICC staff members shows Libya's problems
16 May 2012
Security Council - Libya/ICC report - Statement by Mr. Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent representative of France to the United Nations
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton
19 Nov 2011
Statement by the spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the capture of Saif al-Islam
02 Nov 2011
Rapport du Procureur de la Cour pénale internationale - Intervention de M. Martin Briens, représentant permanent adjoint de la France auprès des Nations unies
NGO Letters, Papers, Reports, and Statements
Author Date and Title
Human Rights Watch
10 Feb 2015
War on the Media: Journalists under Attack in Libya
Human Rights Watch
11 Nov 2014
Letter to the ICC Prosecutor Regarding Accountability for Serious Crimes in Libya
24 Oct 2014
Libya's crossroad, where is Europe going?
FIDH & other organizations
15 Oct 2014
Urgent request for a United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Special Session on accountability for grave and widespread human rights violations in Libya
Human Rights Watch
16 Sept 2014
Submission to the Universal Periodic Review - Libya
Amnesty International
24 July 2014
ICC decision to allow Abdallah al-Senussi to stand trial in Libya ‘deeply alarming’ amidst overwhelming security vacuum
26 June 2014
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: LFJL, REDRESS, and DIGNITY call on Libya to ensure the prevention of torture
NGO Media Statements
Author Date and Title
23 Mar 2015
UN Human Rights Council must take urgent action to address impunity for grave human rights violations in Libya
Human Rights Watch
15 Mar 2015
Libya: Evidence of New Cluster Bomb Use
04 Mar 2015
Libya: NPWJ organises a training course on “Documentation of human rights violations and crimes under international law”
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
26 Feb 2015
Libya: Urgent Action Needed by the United Nations in the Face of Gross Ongoing Violations
International Crisis Group
26 Feb 2015
Libya: Getting Geneva Right
Human Rights Watch
24 Feb 2015
Libya/Egypt: Civilian Toll in Derna Air Strikes
Amnesty International
23 Feb 2015
Libya: Mounting evidence of war crimes in the wake of Egypt's airstrikes
Quotes and Statements
Author Date and Title
Defence for Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi
25 Nov 2013
Press Statement of the Defence for Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi
31 May 2013
John R.W.D Jones Q.C welcomes Gaddafi admissibility decision before the ICC
SCSL President Justice Shirleen Avis Fisher
15 June 2012
Statement by Special Court President Justice Shirleen Avis Fisher on the detention of ICC staff in Libya
13 June 2012
ICTY President expresses concern over the detention of ICC staff in Libya and urges release
UN Reports, Resolutions, and Statements
Author Title Date
International Commission of Inquiry on Libya - UN Human Rights Council
17211|17212 02 Mar 2012