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National statements

Libya - International Criminal Court

Thematic issues

  • Impunity
  • Justice
  • Libya
  • Rule of Law


Statement by HE Ms Philippa King, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Mr President

Australia would like to thank Ms Fatou Bensouda for her informative briefing on the work of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) in relation to the situation in Libya.

Australia remains concerned about the volatile political and security situation in Libya, and we recognise that delivering effective justice in Libya is dependent on building stability and security in the country.

The recent attacks on Libya's parliament and on political leaders and security personnel are disturbing reminders of the challenges Libya faces. National leadership is critical to addressing the security situation and keeping the political transition on track. We urge the Libyan authorities to continue to support the ongoing constitutional drafting process and rule of law reforms, and continue its close cooperation with the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

Security sector reform is a crucial part of this and must be a priority. As long as militias rather than the State retain physical custody of detainees, as long as witnesses are scared to testify, as long as judges are threatened, it will be difficult for justice to be delivered in a manner consistent with international standards.

We are concerned about the adoption of amnesty laws that provide 'revolutionaries' with immunity from prosecution. We urge Libya to respect the principles of equality before the law and to ensure that those believed to be most responsible for the commission of serious international crimes are held to account, regardless of what side they fought on.

The Prosecutor has again drawn our attention to the thousands of conflict-related detainees who continue to be held without due process, some of whom have reportedly been subject to torture and ill treatment. While we recognise the progress made, we recall Resolution 2144 (2014) and again urge Libya to ensure that the detainees in question are transferred to effective State control as swiftly as possible, that the basis of their detention is judicially reviewed, and that those responsible for arbitrary detention or mistreatment are held to account.

We acknowledge that the challenges facing Libya are considerable, given its judicial system was all but destroyed under the Gaddafi regime. But it is vital that Libya ensure that the rights of all those defendants being tried for serious crimes are upheld in full.

Mr President

Turning more specifically to the activities of the International Criminal Court (ICC), we welcome the fact that Libya has pursued its challenge to the ICC's jurisdiction in the Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi cases in a manner that is consistent with the Rome Statute. We are conscious that Libya remains under a pending obligation to surrender Mr Gaddafi to the ICC, notwithstanding its appeal of the Pre-Trial Chamber's decision rejecting its admissibility challenge. We also note that the admissibility decision in the Al-Senussi case is under appeal. It is essential that Libya do nothing to frustrate ongoing ICC processes pending the decisions of the Appeals Chamber. And we underline the importance of Libya meeting its obligation to cooperate with the Court, including by surrendering defendants in accordance with the ICC's decisions.

Australia welcomes the Prosecutor's advice on steps taken to implement the memorandum of understanding concluded between the Office of the Prosecutor and the Libyan Government on burden-sharing in relation to investigations, prosecutions and an arrest strategy. We hope that continued engagement between the ICC and the Libyan authorities will ensure that their respective efforts can have a multiplying effect and serve as a model for a collaborative partnership between the ICC and States that have the will, but perhaps lack the capacity, to hold all key perpetrators to account. We further hope that Libya's insights into the Rome Statute system will encourage it to accede to the Statute.

Mr President

Noting the Prosecutor's advice that several persons of interest have fled Libya, Australia calls on other Member States, particularly Libya's neighbours, to cooperate with the ICC to ensure that those most responsible for the most serious international crimes committed in Libya are brought to justice.

It is equally essential that this Council continue to offer its support to the ICC and to the Libyan authorities as they take steps to end the impunity that for too long prevailed in the country. The Council must take action in support of the Court when necessary to help Libya achieve justice and lasting stability.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 5 June 2015
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