International Criminal Court: Recent Developments in the ICC’s Libyan Investigation and Cases


International Criminal Court Building

Pursuant to referral by the U.N. Security Council, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has been investigating the situation in Libya since February 15, 2011, for possible crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction and has obtained arrest warrants for three Libyans for crimes against humanity: Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Qaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi.[1]

This August a revolt pushed Muammar Qaddafi from power, and on October 20th he was killed as rebels finally wrested control of his hometown of Surt. The country was formally declared liberated three days later, setting in motion the process of creating a new constitution and an elected government.

The death of Muammar Qaddafi has set in motion the formal procedures to withdraw his arrest warrant and terminate that case. But the other two suspects are still at large, and the OTP is continuing to pursue efforts to secure their arrests and to gather evidence on these alleged crimes. Indirect communications with the suspects have been conducted to seek their surrender to the Court.[2]

The OTP also is searching for the personal assets of the suspects for the potential benefit of the victims through reparations that could be awarded by the Court. The OTP had sent requests to Libya, ICC States Parties and the five U.N. Security Council members who are not States Parties (including the U.S.) to identify, trace, seize and freeze such assets.[3]

In addition, the OTP is investigating other possible Libyan crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction, including the following:

  • Alleged rape and other sexual violence by Qaddafi forces.
  • The National Transitional Council’s security forces’ alleged mass arrests, detention and abuse of black Africans who are suspected of being pro-Qaddafi mercenaries.
  • The National Transitional Council’s alleged mistreatment and torture of captured Qaddafi soldiers, suspected loyalists and alleged mercenaries.
  • Alleged disproportionate use of force by all parties.
  • Alleged indiscriminate attacks on civilians by NATO forces.[4]
U.N. Security Council
When the Prosecutor made his second report on Libya to the U.N. Security Council earlier this month, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, complimented the Prosecutor “for his informative briefing and for his important contributions to laying the foundation for seeking the justice that Libyans so deserve.”  The Council’s referral of the Libyan situation to the Court, she also said, “represented an historic milestone in the fight against impunity.”[5]


[1] Post: International Criminal Court and the Obama Administration (May 13, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Libya Investigation Status (May 8, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Three Libyan Arrest Warrants Sought (May 16, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Issuance of Libyan Arrest Warrants and Other Developments (June 27, 2011); Post: International Criminal Justice: Libya, Sudan, Rwanda and Serbia Developments (July 4, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Potential Arrests of Three Libyan Suspects (Aug. 22, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: ICC Prosecutor Seeking INTERPOL Red Notices for Gaddafi (Sept. 9, 2011).

[2] ICC, Second Report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to the UN Security Council Pursuant to UNSCR 1970 (2011) (Nov. 2, 2011); ICC Prosecutor, Statement to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Libya, pursuant to UNSCR 1970 (2011) (Nov. 2, 2011).

[3]  Id.

[4] Id.; Post: International Criminal Court: Investigation of Gang-Rape in Libya (May 17, 2011).

[5] U.S. Mission to the U.N., Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Security Council Meeting on Libya and the International Criminal Court (Nov. 2, 2011); U.N. Security Council Press Release, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Briefs Security Council on ‘Libya Case’ (Nov. 2, 2011).