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ICC Issues Arrest Warrants against Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi: ICC and Coalition Press Statements
27 June 2011
On 27 June 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) 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 committed in Libya since 15 February 2011.
Please find below the latest media advisories issued by the International Criminal Court (I) and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (II) following the decision.
Please take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below), which explicitly states that the Coalition will not take a position on potential and current situations before the Court or situations under analysis. The Coalition, however, will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC.
I. ICC PRESS RELEASE
1. "Pre-Trial Chamber I issues three warrants of arrest for Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdualla Al-Senussi," ICC Press Release, ICC-CPI-20110627-PR689, 27 June 2011, http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/D07229DE-4E3D-45BC-8CB1-F5DAF8370218.htm
"Today, 27 June 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued three warrants of arrest respectively for Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from 15 February 2011 until at least 28 February 2011, through the State apparatus and Security Forces.
The Chamber, composed of Judges Sanji Mmasenono Monageng (Presiding), Sylvia Steiner and Cuno Tarfusser, considered that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the three suspects committed the alleged crimes and that their arrests appear necessary in order to ensure their appearances before the Court; to ensure that they do not continue to obstruct and endanger the Court's investigations; and to prevent them from using their powers to continue the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.
The situation in Libya was referred to the ICC Prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council, through the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1970 on 26 February 2011. The Security Council decided, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, that "the Libyan authorities shall cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor pursuant to this resolution" and, while recognizing that States not party to the Rome Statute have no obligations under the Statute, the Security Council urged all States and concerned regional and other international organisations to cooperate fully with the Court and the Prosecutor.
On 3 March 2011, the ICC Prosecutor decided to open an investigation and requested, on 16 May 2011, the issuance of the arrest warrants.
More information on this case is available here [http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/Go?id=c5995ae1-643e-4c83-ab7f-8791bd30aabd&lan=en-GB] "
II. COALITION PRESS STATEMENTS
1. "ICC Issues Arrest Warrants against Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi: Global Coalition Calls for Arrest of Individuals Wanted for Alleged Crimes Against Humanity Committed in Libya," CICC Media Advisory, 27 June 2011, http://www.iccnow.org/documents/Libya_Warrants_CICC_MA_27062011_FINAL__3_.pdf
"WHAT: On 27 June 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) 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 committed in Libya since 15 February 2011. The ICC is the world's first and only permanent international court to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
WHY: The ICC Prosecutor applied for arrest warrants against Muammar Al-Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi on 16 May 2011. The Judges of ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I have now decided there are reasonable grounds to believe that the three suspects have committed crimes against humanity and that the warrants of arrest are necessary to ensure their appearance before the ICC, to prevent interference in the ongoing investigation and to prevent the commission of further crimes.
NEXT STEPS: Responsibility for the implementation of arrest warrants lies with the Libyan national authorities. Libya is obliged to cooperate fully with the ICC and the Prosecutor under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011). However, cooperation from the Libyan Transitional National Council and other States may be needed to ensure the arrest of the three suspects.
Further cases may be opened in relation to other crimes allegedly committed as part of the Prosecutor's ongoing investigations into the hostilities in Libya. The Prosecutor will address the UN Security Council in six months on further progress made in the investigation.
COMMENT: "Today's decision represents the next step in the efforts of the international community to bring about peace by responding to the most serious crimes through the enforcement of international law," said William R. Pace, Convenor of the Coalition. "The suspects will be afforded far greater guarantees of fair trial before the ICC than they ever allowed for as government officials in Libya," Pace said. "It is important to note that the decision of the ICC Judges reflects also a crucial element of the independence of the ICC, for the Judges could have rejected application by the Prosecutor and the referral by the UN Security Council," he added. "As the ICC does not have a police force, the enforcement of its arrest warrants is now the responsibility of governments and the Security Council."
BACKGROUND: Libya is the sixth situation under investigation by the ICC. On 3 March 2011, the ICC Prosecutor decided to open a formal investigation into the violence following UNSC Resolution 1970 (2011) which referred the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor.
In unanimously adopting Resolution 1970 (2011), the UNSC considered that the widespread and systematic attacks taking place in Libya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity and decided to refer the situation in Libya to the ICC Prosecutor to investigate crimes committed from 15 February 2011 onwards. The prosecutor can only investigate situations in non-state parties, such as Libya, when the UNSC refers the situation to the Prosecutor in accordance with Article 15(b) of the Rome Statute, or where a non-state party has submitted a declaration to the Registrar of the ICC accepting the jurisdiction of the court in its territory pursuant to Article 12(3) of the Statute. A referral by the UNSC to the ICC does not automatically trigger an investigation, however, as the court operates independently of the UN. Rather, it is the prosecutor's decision to determine whether an investigation was warranted. The decision to open an investigation in the Libya situation was made on 3 March 2011.
The ICC is the world's first, permanent international court to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. There are currently 116 ICC States Parties. Central to the Court's mandate is the principle of complementarity, which holds that the Court will only intervene if national legal systems are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. There are currently six active investigations before the Court: the Central African Republic; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, the Sudan; Uganda, Kenya and Libya. The ICC has publicly issued 15 arrest warrants and nine summonses to appear. Three trials are ongoing. The ICC Prosecutor recently requested authorization from Judges to open an investigation in Côte d'Ivoire. His office has also made public that it is examining at least nine situations on four continents, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Republic of Korea, Nigeria, and Palestine.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court is a global network of civil society organizations in 150 countries working in partnership to strengthen international cooperation with the ICC; ensure that the Court is fair, effective and independent; make justice both visible and universal; and advance stronger national laws that deliver justice to victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. For more information, visit: www.coalitionfortheicc.org.
Members of the Coalition are available for background information and comments. Experts list available upon request to: [email protected] ..."
2. "Situation in Libya: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issues three arrest warrants
Brussels-Rome", No Peace Without Justice Press Statement, 27 June 2011, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/NPWJ_PR_Libya27JUN11.pdf
"Today, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) granted the Prosecution's request of 16 May 2011 for the issuance of three arrest warrants against Muammar Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Libya since 15 February 2011 during the violent Government crackdown on prodemocracy demonstrations and the armed conflict that followed.
Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:
"No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) welcome the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber's Decision to issue arrest warrants against those allegedly bearing the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity in Libya since 15 February 2011 as an important development for international criminal law and a critical step towards peace and justice in Libya.
"The speed with which this process is moving is unprecedented, just four months from the UN Security Council referral to the issuance of arrest warrants today. We welcome justice moving quickly, but it must not be at the expense of victims or impartial and independent justice. We urge the ICC to begin outreach immediately with victims and affected communities in Libya, including informing victims of their right to participate in proceedings. "NPWJ and the NRPTT hope and believe that today's decision could help the transitional process in Libya and act as a deterrent for violence and abuses. This decision should help erode the culture of impunity and demonstrate that there are consequences for serious crimes and human rights violations under international law. It is a critical step towards ending violations and for the healing of Libya.
"We urge the international community to support investigations and documentation carried out by the Transitional National Council and civil society in Libya, so that critical information about crimes falling outside these three ICC arrest warrants is not lost or destroyed. Whatever future accountability process the new Libya will decide to adopt, in any case the timely and reliable collection of information will be an essential building block and that information must be safeguarded. Because the ICC Office of the Prosecutor should only focus on those who bear the greatest responsibility for the egregious crimes in Libya since 15 February 2011, there is a need for other actors to build a shared history within Libya, to create a solid foundation for a future based on human rights and the rule of law. We support the Prosecutor's approach, but it does leave a potential impunity gap, both for violations committed prior to 15 February 2011 and for violations committed by those who do not bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes as a whole. The ICC is not in a position to deal with those crimes: they must be addressed through genuine and credible domestic proceedings, whether judicial or otherwise.
"NPWJ and the NRPTT also urge the international community, and particularly ICC States Parties, to provide all necessary support and cooperation for the execution of these three arrest warrants and for subsequent proceedings. ICC States Parties have a legal obligation to do so; all States have a vested interest in doing so, to help bring peace and security to Libya and the region and to help provide justice and redress for the victims."
For more information, please contact Alison Smith on [email protected] or +32-(0)2-548-3912, or Nicola Giovannini on [email protected] or +32-2-548-39 15."
3. "Libya: Warrants Send Strong Message to Abusive Leaders. Pursuit of Justice No Barrier to Lasting Peace", Human Rights Watch Press Statement, 27 June 2010, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/06/27/libya-warrants-send-strong-message-abusive-leaders
"(New York) - The International Criminal Court (ICC), by issuing an arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi, signaled that the law can reach even those long thought to be immune to accountability, Human Rights Watch said today. The ICC judges granted warrants on June 27, 2011, for Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, his son Seif al-Islam, and Libya's intelligence chief, Abdullah Sanussi. They are wanted on charges of crimes against humanity for their roles in attacks on civilians, including peaceful demonstrators, in Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata, and other Libyan cities and towns.
Issuing the warrants was an important step to providing the victims of serious crimes in Libya the chance for redress. Despite concerns that an arrest warrant against Gaddafi would act as an obstacle to finding a solution to the conflict in Libya and thus discourage the Libyan leader from relinquishing power, it is unlikely that there is a connection between the ICC investigation and Gaddafi's refusal to step down, Human Rights Watch said.
"Muammar Gaddafi already made clear he intended to stay until the bitter end before the ICC process was set in motion, and his son's February vow to 'live and die in Libya' speaks for itself," said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. "It beggars belief that a dictator who has gripped power for over 40 years would be frozen in place by this arrest warrant."
Human Rights Watch documented the arbitrary arrest and disappearance of scores of people, as well as instances in which government forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrators after the start of anti-government protests in eastern Libya on February 15.
Following the court's issuance of arrest warrants, initiatives aimed at ending the devastating conflict in Libya are important, but justice should not be abandoned as other objectives are pursued, Human Rights Watch said.Human Rights Watch research in countries such as Sierra Leone and Angola shows that the failure to hold perpetrators of the most serious international crimes to account can contribute to future abuses.
The record from other conflicts also shows that arrest warrants for senior leaders can actually strengthen peace efforts by stigmatizing those who stand in the way of conflict resolution. For example, the indictments of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia are credited with keeping them sidelined during the Dayton peace talks, which led to the end of the Bosnian war.
The ICC is tasked with bringing to justice those most responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. It must act independently and apolitically to fulfill its mandate, Human Rights Watch said. In parallel, other actors have a vital role to play in resolving the crisis in Libya, including through diplomatic and humanitarian activities.
"As a judicial undertaking, the court's work is distinct from the military and diplomatic initiatives unfolding in Libya and it would be a mistake to conflate them," Dicker said. "Justice, to be credible, must run its independent course."
The ICC prosecutor had asked the judges of the court on May 16 to issue warrants for the three Libyan suspects. Libya, though not a party to the Rome Statute that created the court, is subject to ICC jurisdiction through United Nations Security Council resolution 1970.
Because the ICC has no police force of its own, it depends on national authorities to make arrests on its behalf. Resolution 1970 requires the Libyan authorities to cooperate fully with the court. In April, the opposition authority in Libya, the Interim Transitional National Council, promised to cooperate with the ICC in a letter to the Prosecutor's Office.
Any suspect who is arrested or who surrenders to the court has an opportunity to object to the charges and to challenge the evidence in a "confirmation of charges" hearing. At that point, the ICC judges must decide whether the evidence available is sufficient to establish "substantial grounds to believe" that the person committed each of the crimes charged. If they decide it is sufficient, the case can move forward to trial.
Human Rights Watch has documented serious and systematic violations of the laws of war by Libyan government forces during the current armed conflict, including repeated indiscriminate attacks in residential neighborhoods in Misrata and towns in the western Nafusa mountains. Human Rights Watch has also documented human rights abuses by rebel forces.
On June 1, an International Commission of Inquiry for Libya set up by the UN Human Rights Council released its report, concluding that both government and rebel forces committed acts amounting to war crimes. The commission investigated reports that NATO forces were involved in indiscriminate attacks against civilians, but concluded that it had not seen evidence to suggest that NATO forces had intentionally targeted civilian areas or engaged in indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
Security Council resolution 1970 says that nationals from states outside Libya that are not parties to the ICC statute are not subject to ICC jurisdiction for all alleged acts arising out of operations in Libya established or authorized by the Security Council. A number of countries have provided notice about their participation in military operations under another Security Council resolution, Resolution 1973, which authorizes member states "to take all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya. All countries which have provided notice, including non-state parties to the ICC, remain obligated under international law to investigate and prosecute any members of their armed forces implicated in war crimes.
In addition to the current case against the three Libyan suspects, Human Rights Watch urged the ICC prosecutor to continue to investigate serious crimes that may have been committed by any party during the armed conflict in Libya. Security Council resolution 1970 gives the ICC ongoing jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Libya since February 15, 2011.
Libya: Questions and Answers on the International Criminal Court's Decision on Arrest Warrants
On June 27, 2011, the International Criminal Court (ICC) judges granted warrants for the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and Libya's intelligence chief, Abdullah Sanussi. They are wanted on charges of crimes against humanity for their roles in attacks on civilians, including peaceful demonstrators, in Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata, and other Libyan cities and towns. The ICC prosecutor had asked the judges of the court on May 16 to issue warrants for the three Libyan suspects.
1. How did the judges make the determination to issue arrest warrants?
By issuing the arrest warrants, the ICC judges indicated that they were satisfied that there were "reasonable grounds to believe" that the individuals named in the prosecutor's May 16 request had committed a crime within the jurisdiction of the court.
A suspect who is arrested or surrenders to the court has an opportunity to object to the charges and to challenge the evidence in a "confirmation of charges" hearing. At that point, if the ICC judges decide that there is enough evidence to establish "substantial grounds to believe" - a higher threshold - that the person committed each of the crimes charged, the case can move forward to trial.
2. Isn't Muammar Gaddafi immune as a head of state?
The Rome Statute, which established the ICC, applies to everyone regardless of their official role. Article 27 of the Rome Statute states explicitly that heads of state are not immune from prosecution.
The warrant for Muammar Gaddafi is not the first for a sitting head of state by an international court. In 1999, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia issued its first indictment against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo. In 2003, the Special Court for Sierra Leone unsealed its indictment of Charles Taylor, then president of Liberia. Most recently, the ICC has issued two arrest warrants for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
3. Now that arrest warrants have been issued, how are they to be carried out?
Because the ICC has no police force of its own, it depends on national authorities to make arrests on its behalf. United Nations Security Council resolution 1970, that referred Libya to the ICC, requires the Libyan authorities to cooperate fully with the court. Libya, though not a party to the Rome treaty, is obligated because of the resolution to make arrests at the court's request. States parties to the ICC also have a legal obligation to cooperate with the court, and resolution 1970 urges states that are not parties to the Rome treaty to cooperate.
4. Can diplomats and others still have meetings with Gaddafi now that he is subject to an ICC arrest warrant?
The issuance of an arrest warrant does not legally prevent diplomats from holding talks with the three suspects. Meeting with Gaddafi and the others will be a matter of individual government policy.
5. Won't the arrest warrant for Gaddafi just entrench him or those around him further?
Gaddafi has made it clear that he intends to stay until the end. In February, his son Seif al-Islam was quoted on state television saying they would fight to the last man and last woman. It appears unlikely that an arrest warrant will alter Gaddafi's intentions one way or the other. On the other hand, there are those around Gaddafi who are now on notice that they could also be held responsible for crimes they order or commit, or for crimes they fail to prevent or punish. This could encourage them to take steps to stop crimes.
The record from other conflicts also shows that arrest warrants for senior leaders can actually strengthen peace efforts by stigmatizing those who stand in the way of conflict resolution. For example, the indictments of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serbs' wartime political leader, and Ratko Mladic, their military commander, by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia are credited with keeping them sidelined during the Dayton peace talks, which led to the end of the Bosnian war.
6. What if Gaddafi offers to go in exchange for amnesty?
Amnesty for grave abuses against civilians has no legal viability internationally. International law rejects impunity for serious crimes, such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture. International treaties, including the UN Convention against Torture, the Geneva Conventions, and the Rome Statute of the ICC, require parties to ensure alleged perpetrators of serious crimes are prosecuted.
7. Will the ICC prosecutor conduct other investigations?
The prosecutor's current case focuses on those most responsible for crimes against humanity committed in Libya during the period before the armed conflict began. He has suggested that he may open a second investigation later, relating to the subsequent armed conflict. Human Rights Watch urges the ICC prosecutor to continue to investigate serious crimes that may have been committed by all parties in Libya, including rebel forces and NATO.
8. Why is the ICC prosecutor investigating crimes committed in Libya but not investigating crimes in Syria?
The ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed after July 1, 2002, only if at least one of the following threshold conditions is met:
The crimes occurred in the territory of a state that is a party to the Rome Statute;
The person accused of the crimes is a citizen of a country that is a party to the Rome Statute;
A state that is not a party to the Rome Statute accepts the ICC's authority for the crime in question by making a declaration and lodging it with the ICC registrar; or
The UN Security Council refers the situation to the ICC prosecutor.
Syria is not a state party to the Rome Statute. For the ICC to begin an investigation, either the UN Security Council would have to refer the situation to the ICC prosecutor, as it did for Libya, or Syria would have to accept the court's jurisdiction.
Human Rights Watch has called on the Syrian government to take immediate steps to halt the excessive use of lethal force by security forces. It has also urged the UN Security Council to impose sanctions and press Syria for accountability and, if it does not respond adequately, to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court."
CICC's policy on the referral and prosecution of situations before the ICC: The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an independent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization. The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to date information about the ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local and other organizations in the course of their efforts.
Communications to the ICC can be sent to: ICC P.O. box 19519 2500 CM the Hague The Netherlands