Following admissibility hearings which took place from October 9-10 at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) calls on all parties to prioritise the need to bring justice to victims and survivors of crimes committed during and prior to the 17 February Revolution. The ICC and Libya have been in dispute over where and who should prosecute Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and Abdullah al-Senussi, the regime's former intelligence chief, should be tried. Both were indicted by the ICC in June 2011 but are currently being held in Libya, which has declared its intention to try them domestically. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is in detention in Zintan while Abdullah al-Senussi is in custody in Tripoli, after being extradited from Mauritania in September 2012.
“The Libyan government and the ICC must make sure that they put the need for justice amongst victims and survivors first,” said LFJL Director Elham Saudi. “Irrespective of where Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi are ultimately tried, the priority must be serving justice for those who were victims of crimes and atrocities in Libya. It is in their name and for them that justice and accountability must be pursued. If it is not, then they will become victims once again,” added Saudi.
LFJL also called on all parties to guarantee the rights of the defendants. Saudi declared that “the unfair treatment of defendants would be a stain on Libya's transition towards a state which respects human rights and the rule of law and must be avoided.”
The pursuit of justice in post-Gaddafi Libya has not been smooth and relations between the ICC and Libya have been strained at times. From June to July 2012, for example, four defence staff from the ICC were detained despite recognition that they enjoy diplomatic immunity under international law. LFJL encourages increased cooperation between the ICC and Libya. “The relationship between the ICC and Libya has not always been smooth and any options which can help increase cooperation between the two sides should be explored,” said Saudi.
LFJL also urged the international community not to turn a blind-eye towards ongoing challenges in Libya in the fight against impunity beyond the trial of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi. “There remains the ever-present danger of fostering a culture of impunity in Libya. All possible means must be utilized to ensure that this does not occur and to promote accountability and reconciliation.”