The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today he is seeking arrest warrants against three members of the Gaddafi regime for crimes against humanity.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the United Nations Security Council he has “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed and continue being committed in Libya.”
According to Ocampo’s findings, the crimes include shooting at peaceful protesters, shooting at unarmed civilians, rape, torture, the use of civilians as human shields, blocking of humanitarian supplies, and forced disappearances.
“The persecution appears to be also systematic and implemented in different cities. War crimes are apparently committed as a matter of policy.” Ocampo said in his report.
“It is indeed a characteristic of the situation in Libya that massive crimes are reportedly committed upon instruction of a few persons who control the organizations that execute the orders,” the report also said. “Arresting those who ordered the commission of crimes, should the Judges decide to issue warrants, will contribute to the protection of civilians in Libya.”
Ocampo’s preliminary report comes two months after the Council voted unanimously to refer the Libyan crisis to the ICC.
Ocampo says he will not reveal the identities of the “three individuals who appear to bear the greatest criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity” until he presents the case to the court’s pre-trial chamber in the coming weeks. However, Al Arabiya News claimed the warrants “likely” include Gaddafi himself, as well as his son Saif al-Islam.
It remains unclear whether or not Ocampo plans to file charges against any of the rebel leaders although the report did mention “alleged war crimes as well as other crimes against humanity” appear to have been committed by “different parties.” Ocampo told CNN that when he opened the ICC investigation two months ago he warned the rebels were equally subject to international law.
The Guardian pointed out that Western diplomats say the move is intended to further increase international pressure on Tripoli, and indeed as the Wall Street Journal reported, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice
seized on Mr. Ocampo’s recommendation to press those close to Col. Gadhafi to turn against the Libyan leader, as U.S. officials have urged many times in recent months.
“The specter of ICC prosecution is serious and imminent and should again warn those around Ghadafi about the perils of continuing to tie their fate to his,” Rice said.
As the Guardian noted:
The investigation is highly significant politically as Nato went to war in Libya on “humanitarian grounds” on the strength of security council resolution 1970 authorising “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. If the court approves the arrest warrants it will help insulate the alliance against international criticism of his prolonged campaign in Libya.
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Read more: crimes against humanity, international criminal court, libya, luis moreno ocampo, muammar gaddafi, nato, north africa, politics, rebel forces, regional conflict, saif al islam, susan rice, united nations security council, war crimes
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