Libya asks ICC prosecutor to shift focus to Gaza

After 13 years, the International Criminal Court has yet to bring any Libyan cases to trial

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan. Reuters
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Libya's UN representative has urged the International Criminal Court's prosecutor, Karim Khan, to shift focus towards Gaza, saying a continuing investigation into Libya – now in its 13th year – has been fruitless.

“Libyans are wondering what have you provided to us?” Taher El Sonni said on Tuesday during a Security Council session on the ICC’s work on Libya.

"Where are the results? After 13 years, 27 reports, dozens of visits, hundreds of clues and evidence.

“Only one name was determined and this person was killed.”

Mr El Sonni said the ICC should reallocate its resources to address more evident issues, specifically pointing to the situation in Gaza, which he called a “genocide”.

“The world expects you, Mr Khan … to be courageous and issue arrest warrants against officials of the Israeli regime who have repeated again and again that they want to commit genocidal actions against Palestinians,” he said.

"What are you waiting for, Mr Khan?” he added. “Don’t you see the threats against civilians, the potential threats against civilians in Rafah and the massacre that would happen at any time?"

Karim Khan informed the UN Security Council that he remains steadfast and unintimidated in his team's investigation of potential war crimes or crimes against humanity in Gaza and the Palestinian territories.

The ICC has been investigating the actions of Israeli and Palestinian authorities since 2014.

Last week, two Republican congressmen introduced the "Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act" to sanction ICC officials targeting the US or its allies, including Israel.

They referenced imminent ICC arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials following Hamas' attack on October 7 and argued that the ICC should also pursue Hamas leaders if it were a fair tribunal.

Algeria's deputy ambassador, Nacim Gaouaoui, expressed hoped that the support extended by council members to the ICC would broaden to cover more issues such as Gaza, and “demonstrate that it is not a tool used by some members of the international community to threaten whoever they want, whenever they want.”

“We must emphasise the need to avoid any double standards in this sense,” Mr Gaouaoui said.

The Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC in February 2011 after a violent crackdown on protests against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi.

Since opening its investigation in March 2011, the ICC has developed three cases involving crimes against humanity and war crimes.

But some proceedings were halted after the deaths of those accused.

An arrest warrant is still active for Saif Al Islam Qaddafi, whose father, the former Libyan dictator, was killed by rebels in October 2011.

To date, the ICC has still not conducted any trials related to Libya.

During his briefing to the Security Council, Mr Khan announced a “road map” would see the investigation phase completed by the end of 2025.

“Of course, it's not going to be easy," he said. "It's going to require co-operation, candour, a 'can do' attitude from my office but also from the authorities in Libya.

“The aim would be to give effect to arrest warrants and to have initial proceedings start before the court in relation to at least one warrant by the end of next year."

Mr Khan also told the council there was enthusiasm for the prosecution to open an office in Tripoli but the rule of law must apply there.

Updated: May 15, 2024, 4:07 AM