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Libya: ICC issues warrant against Gaddafi

last updated Jun 28, 2011

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has issued arrest warrants for Libyan president Muammar al-Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libya’s intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi over crimes against humanity. The alleged crimes were committed during the ongoing armed conflict between troops of Gaddafi and rebels supported by air strikes from the NATO. The ICC said there were “reasonable grounds” to believe that the three were criminally responsible for attacks on civilians, murder and persecution of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators.

The ICC in The Hague
The ICC in The Hague; Source: Vincent van Zeijst

Gaddafi is the second sitting president after Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir who is wanted by the ICC. Libya is not among the 115 states that recognize the international court. However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 referred Libya to the ICC and requires Libyan authorities to fully cooperate with the ICC. The resolution also obliges authorities to make arrests at the court’s request.


It is not expected that the Libyan authorities will fulfill their obligation and the absence of an ICC police force makes the warrant a fairly inefficient tool. Nevertheless, other cases such as the conflict in former Yugoslavia show that arrest warrants may strengthen peace efforts. It also restricts the three wanted Libyan men to travel into countries which recognize the ICC and are obligated to arrest any alleged war criminal to be prosecuted before the ICC.


The armed conflict is not believed to be solved any time soon despite it is now more than 100 days since the NATO started their air strikes against targets of Libyan leader Gaddafi.


HRW: Libya: Warrants Send Strong Message to Abusive Leaders


NY Times: Charges of War Crimes Brought Against Qaddafi


War crimes court issues Gaddafi arrest warrant


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