The International Criminal Court has issued warrants for arrest for Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi.
The chamber which issued the indictments was comprised of; Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng (Presiding), Judge Sylvia Steiner and Judge Cuno Tarfusser.
Although the warrants have been issued, states which are not party to the Rome Statute are under no obligation to co-operate with the ICC. 114 countries are not under the jurisdiction of the court. This list includes the United States, China, Israel and Libya. However, the UN Security Council urged all States and concerned regional and other international organisations to cooperate fully with the Court and the Prosecutor.
The situation in Libya was referred to the ICC Prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council, through the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1970 on 26th February 2011. On 3rd March 2011, the ICC Prosecutor decided to open an investigation and requested, on 16th May 2011, the issuance of the arrest warrants.
The arrest warrants were issued on the basis of “reasonable grounds to believe” that the named defendants have murdered and persecuted civilians. The indictment also posits that these crimes were “part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against the civilian population in Libya”.
The NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, used the warrant as an opportunity to highlight the work of the NATO action against Libya:
“This decision once again highlights the increasing isolation of the Qadhafi regime. It reinforces the reason for NATO’s mission to protect the Libyan people from Qadhafi’s forces. Qadhafi and his henchmen need to realise that time is rapidly running out for them. NATO is more determined than ever to keep up the pressure until all attacks on civilians have ended, until all regime forces have returned to their bases and until there is unhindered access to humanitarian aid for all those who need it.”
Human Rights Watch similarly hailed the news, saying that it “signaled that the law can reach even those long thought to be immune to accountability”. In the same statement, HRW dismissed fears that the warrant might extend hostilities further by removing any exit strategy for the embattle North African leader and his family.
In the evidence presented by the Prosecutor and considered by the Chamber, it was stated that the Libyan Security Forces had up to 60,000 spies at all levels of society, who were used to monitor the activities of “stray dogs” or dissidents.