Following reports regarding the release of Saif al Islam Gaddafi, Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) calls on the Libyan state to transfer him immediately to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and to repeal amnesty laws that exempt those who have committed gross human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.
Saif al Islam Gaddafi is charged by the ICC with committing crimes against humanity in 2011, during the Libyan uprising. On 19 November 2011, he was captured by forces from Zintan where he has since been detained. Despite repeated requests, subsequent Libyan governments have failed to comply with extradition orders issued by the ICC.
In July 2015, he was sentenced to death for war crimes by the Tripoli Court of Assize in absentia. Yesterday, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's lawyer, Karim Khan QC, claimed that his client had been freed on 12 April 2016 as a result of an order from the Government of National Accord. This has since been disputed by the Zintan Municipality, Zintan Revolutionaries’ Military Council, and the Social Commission. Khan has since suggested that he intends to file an application of inadmissibility to the ICC, arguing that the ICC cannot try persons who have been tried by another court for the same conduct.
Irrespective of the truthfulness of statements regarding Saif al Islam Gaddafi’s release, LFJL strongly condemns the existence of amnesty laws that enable individuals charged with human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law to be released. LFJL has repeatedly stated that such provisions endanger the rule of law, the rights of victims, and the vital role of accountability in securing peace.
LFJL Director, Elham Saudi, stated “The lack of accountability in Libya remains a huge concern. Although human rights violations were part of the negotiations of the political dialogues led by the United Nations, amnesty laws remain on the books in Libya. The recent draft constitution also proposes further entrenchment of such measures. These amnesties are not only inconsistent with international law, but undermine efforts to transition Libya to a state where impunity is no longer tolerated.”
LFJL also strongly disputes the claim that Saif al Islam Gaddafi’s case should no longer be admissible before the ICC. The ICC Appeals Chamber ruled in 2014 that the Office of the Prosecutor’s case against Saif al Islam Gaddafi remained admissible before the ICC, as the Libyan government failed to demonstrate that he faced substantially the same case nationally as he would face at the ICC. Further, as LFJL noted, that the domestic trial regarding the sentencing of Saif al Islam Gaddafi established serious concerns regarding his access to fair trial rights including in the absence of adequate trial monitoring. This raises serious doubts as to the independence and impartiality of the trials and whether they were consistent with the intent to bring about justice, which is a requirement for the conduct of another court to be considered valid by the ICC.
“It is vital that the victims of grave human rights abuses are given access to real justice. The Libyan state has raised serious questions as to its willingness and ability to deliver such justice following its treatment of Saif al Islam Gaddafi and others and its adoption of amnesty provisions, in addition to being illegal under international law. It is vital, therefore, for the state to show a renewed commitment to accountability and the rule of law, and through the immediate surrender of Saif al Islam Gaddafi to the ICC,” said Saudi.