NEW YORK — The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court called on Libya Thursday to surrender Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the late Libyan ruler, but Libya’s representative at the United Nations turned down her request.
The Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, urged Libya to turn over Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi to the court. Gadhafi, the son of the overthrown and slain Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, has been charged on two counts of crimes against humanity: murder and persecution.
Bensouda spoke to the United Nations Security Council, saying, “The obligation to surrender to the court persons against whom arrest warrants have been issued must be respected. Political considerations have no place in law, impartially and independently applied. I strongly urge the government of Libya to surrender Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi to the court without further delay.”
Libya’s U.N. ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told the Security Council that the people of his country want to see Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi prosecuted within Libya.
“No government, regardless of how popular it is, can accept a trial that would take place outside of Libya, because that would then destabilize social peace, which is quite precarious and indeed, it might constitute a threat to the lives of the perpetrators of these crimes,” he said.
The International Criminal Court has ruled that another accused Libyan, the country’s former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi, should stand trial in Libya. The Libyan ambassador said he hopes the court will recognize his country’s responsibility to try Gadhafi as well.
Libya has remained in turmoil since Moammar Gadhafi's four-decade rule ended with his killing by rebels in 2011. The central government is struggling to control former rebel militias, and there have been frequent attacks on soldiers and police.
ICC prosecutor Bensouda, in her report to the Security Council, said the security situation in Libya remains volatile and precarious. She added that there have been some promising gains, such as a draft law that would make rape during armed conflict a war crime in Libya. Bensouda, however, said it is a matter of great concern that thousands of detainees remain in uncertain conditions, with well-founded allegations of torture and even killings in detention.
United States representative Rosemary DiCarlo said the Libyan government must work to ensure that those in detention centers are not held without due process and are treated humanely.
“The United States stands ready to assist Libya as it works to reform its justice sector, strengthen the rule of law and advance human rights," she said."We strongly believe that these and other areas of Libya’s transition need to be fully addressed.”
DiCarlo said the United States looks forward to continuing its active engagement with the Criminal Court and its prosecutor to advance accountability for atrocities.