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International | Judicial decisions

International Court of Justice (ICJ)

International Criminal Court (ICC)

On 26 February 2011, the situation in Libya following the violent response to anti-government protests was referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council based on Art. 16 of the Rome Statute (Resolution 1970 of 2011). The Office of the Prosecutor announced soon thereafter that it was conducting an investigation into whether widespread or systematic attacks have indeed been perpetrated against the Libyan civilian population since fighting started on 15 February 2011.

On 4 May 2011, the First Report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to the UN Security Council pursuant to Resolution 1970 (2011) was submitted. On 16 May 2011, the Prosecutor announced that he requested that the judges of the ICC issue arrest warrants against three individuals for crimes against humanity committed in Libya since February 2011: Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and the Head of the Intelligence Abdullah Al Sanousi.

On 27 June 2011, international arrest warrants were issued for Muammar Gaddafi, his son, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, the head of intelligence, for acts of murder and persecution as crimes against humanity committed in Libya between 15 February 2011 and at least 28 February 2011 (until at least 20 February 2011 in the case of Al-Senussi).

See: Decision on the "Prosecutor's Application Pursuant to Article 58 as to Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi", Pre-Trial Chamber I, No. ICC-01/11, 27 June 2011

On 1 May 2012, the Libyan Government filed an application with the Court claiming the latter lacked jurisdiction in the cases of Al Gaddafi and Al Sanoussi. Since they were being actively investigated in their home country, Libyan authorities claimed, the principle of complementarity precluded ICC involvement.

See: The Prosecutor v. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, Application on behalf of the Government of Libya pursuant to Article 19 of the ICC Statute, ICC-01/11-01/11, 1 May 2012

See also: Questions and Answers on the ICC proceedings following the UNSC referral regarding Libya, ICC-PIDS-Q&A-LYB-01-001/11, 1 March 2011 and "Statement to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, pursuant to UNSCR 1970 (2011)", 4 May 2011

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

On March 3, 2011, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights instituted proceedings against Libya before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights “for serious violations” of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (“African Charter”). On March 25, 2011, the African Court issued an order for provisional measures against Libya because “a situation of extreme gravity and urgency, as well as risk of irreparable harm” exists in the country.

The Court acknowledged that its order was not premised on “written pleadings or oral hearings,” but the current conditions in Libya warranted the extraordinary measures. The Court also relied on other international organizations—the African Union, the Arab League, and the United Nations Security Council—which have expressed deep concerns about the human suffering in Libya and have called for immediate action against the current regime. 

Source: American Society of International Law (ASIL) - International Law in Brief, 11 April 2011

Further reading: Anna Dolidze, "African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights – Response to the Situation in Libya", ASIL Insights, Vol. 15, Issue 20, 26 July 2011

Last updated: 25 May 2012

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