ICC ready to reinvestigate Libya, but is the world?

24 September 2014 by Christopher Stephen, Tripoli (Libya)

Just when The Hague thought it was finished with Libya, the International Criminal Court finds itself preparing fresh investigations for the strife-torn country.

Judges at the ICC failed to persuade Libya to hand over two high-profile suspects indicted for war crimes during the Arab spring’s revolution against Muammar Gaddafi, and court officials assumed they had wrapped up business with the north African country. But the return of war, this time between the victorious militias, prompted the UN in August to urge a new round of investigations. The big question is whether the ICC will get the international support necessary for prosecutions to proceed.

The ICC was first ordered to investigate Libya in 2011, when Gaddafi’s forces were pummelling civilians and rebel fighters. Now those rebels, divided into two broad camps – one Islamist, the other not – battle for control as the country slides into anarchy. Alarmed at violence that has created 250,000 refugees and seen Islamists seize Tripoli, the UN Security Council urged prosecutions in its resolution 2174. The resolution is written as a reminder rather than an instruction, stating that the ICC has responsibility for “holding accountable those responsible for violations or abuses of human rights or violations of international humanitarian law”. 

Want to read more?

We have tailor-made memberships for students, individuals, groups of professionals and large companies and organizations. A subscription entitles you to receive the International Justice Tribune every two weeks as well as become a member of the Justice Tribune Foundation, supporting independent reporting on international justice.

Subscribe now

Related articles

25 June 2014 by IJT

Saif al-Islam, the son of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, appeared again last Sunday before a Tripoli court, via a video link from the city of Zintan, south-west of the capital city. 

Outside al-Hadba prison in Tripoli, where the trial of Senussi and co-defendants opened on 14 April 2014 (Photo: Chris Stephen)
04 May 2015 by Chris Stephen

The controversial trial of Libya’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi will enter its “final” stage on 20 May, court authorities announced this week. After a case lasting just over a year, during which a Libyan civil war broke out [IJT-176], prosecutors say they are prepared to finish proceedings, the country’s Al Nabaa television station reported Sunday.  

Outside al-Hadba prison in Tripoli, where the trial of Senussi and co-defendants opened on 14 April 2014 (Photo: Chris Stephen)
25 February 2015 by Chris Stephen

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor ruled that despite civil war in Libya and militias storming the capital, she has no reason to think the country’s former intelligence chief is getting an unfair trial.

15 April 2014 by Christopher Stephen, Tripoli (Libya)

Last October, a panel of three International Criminal Court (ICC) judges decided Libya was both able and willing to try its former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, and therefore there was no need for The Hague to do so. It was a decision that conforms with the purpose of the ICC, which is to complement, rather than supersede, national courts. 

20 October 2011 by Geraldine Coughlan

The death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has sparked speculation about what this means for international justice. Obviously, the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in June, will die with him.