Hague prosecutor urges Libya not to grant amnesty for war crimes

Wed Nov 7, 2012 12:12pm EST
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By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Libya should not grant amnesty for war crimes committed during last year's uprising against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, regardless of who committed them, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said on Wednesday.

In her first official presentation to the U.N. Security Council as The Hague-based court's top prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda said that the ICC's pre-trial chamber would decide "in due course" on whether the late Libyan leader's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi should be tried in Libya or The Hague.

Bensouda recalled the Libyan authorities' stated commitment to ensuring that there would be no impunity for crimes committed during the fight to overthrow Gaddafi, who was captured and killed by rebels in October 2011 after a half-year civil war.

She pointed to a recently approved Libyan law that raises the possibility of amnesty for "acts made necessary by the 17 February revolution," apparently creating the possibility of not prosecuting crimes committed by anti-Gaddafi fighters.

"I encourage the new Libyan government, scheduled to be sworn in tomorrow, on 8 November, to ensure that there is no amnesty for international crimes and no impunity for crimes, regardless of who the perpetrator is and who is the victim," she told the 15-nation council.

Bensouda said she understood that the Libyan government has committed itself to a strategy of addressing all crimes committed in the country.

"I encourage the government of Libya to make this strategy public, and to work with key partners to receive feedback on this strategy and to seek out the views and concerns of victims in Libya. Early finalization of this strategy will be yet another milestone on Libya's path to democracy and rule of law."

Richard Dicker, an international law expert at Human Rights Watch, welcomed Bensouda's remarks on the Libyan amnesty law, which he described as "an affront to victims of serious crimes and a flagrant violation ... of Libya's responsibilities."   Continued...

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court (ICC) addresses a media briefing in Kenya's capital Nairobi, October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya