• Press Release

Amnesty International Warns Neighboring Countries Not to Harbor Colonel Al-Gaddafi

September 8, 2011

Says He and Others Should be Arrested and Turned Over to the International Criminal Court for Crimes Against Humanity

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]

(New York) — Amnesty International said today no country should provide a safe haven for Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi and other Libyan leaders wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The human rights organization said neighboring countries must arrest al-Gaddafi and others if they flee Libya.

Former officials from al-Gaddafi's government have reportedly fled to neighboring Niger; authorities in Burkina Faso denied claims that al-Gaddafi was offered safe haven there.

"No country should provide a safe haven to Colonel al-Gaddafi or others suspected of committing crimes under international law," said Claudio Cordone, senior director at Amnesty International.

"If they are found outside Libya, national authorities in that country must immediately arrest them and hand them over to the ICC to face trial."

A military convoy of al-Gaddafi loyalists was reportedly spotted inside Niger on Tuesday, allegedly fleeing the armed conflict in Libya.

Officials in Niger confirmed that the convoy had reached the capital Niamey and included former officials from al-Gaddafi's government, including former chief of security Mansour Daw. It is unknown whether Colonel al-Gaddafi or his son Saif al-Islam joined the convoy.

"All African states should reaffirm their commitment to ending impunity for the most serious crimes under international law," said Cordone. "This includes arresting and surrendering all ICC suspects to The Hague."
Mu'ammar and Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Sanussi, Libya's former head of military intelligence, have been on the run since the ICC issued arrest warrants for them in late June.

All three are accused of crimes against humanity — persecution and murder — committed in Libya since February.
The United Nations Security Council has called upon all states, including Libya's new leadership, to co-operate fully with ICC investigations.

Colonel al-Gaddafi and others wanted by the ICC must be arrested and surrendered to the Court for investigation, regardless of where they are found. Libya's new authorities may request that any suspects are tried before national courts or that the ICC conduct its proceedings in Libya.

Amnesty International believes that for this to happen, the new Libyan government must genuinely be able to demonstrate it can effectively investigate and prosecute suspects, and guarantee the security of witnesses and others.

Regardless of where al-Gaddafi and other suspects face trial, the proceedings must meet international fair trial standards and deliver justice and reparation to the victims.

The Libyan justice system has been flawed for decades, making a fair trial for al-Gaddafi impossible now.
Rebuilding the justice system is among the urgent priorities for Libya's new leadership.
In meetings with Amnesty International this month, officials within the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights vowed to reform the justice sector, including abolishing special courts and ensuring the independence of the judiciary. However, such efforts will take time, and delay justice and reparation to the many victims of the al-Gaddafi era.

Recent Amnesty International missions have uncovered evidence of crimes under international law committed by al-Gaddafi forces, including enforced disappearances, torture and mass killings of detainees at military camps in Tripoli and elsewhere, and indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the western cities of Misratah and al-Zawiya and in Ajdabia, in the east of the country.