Colonel M’uammar al-Gaddafi and other senior Libyan government figures must be arrested and handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial for alleged serious human rights crimes, Amnesty International said today.
ICC judges today approved warrants for the arrest of al-Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and military intelligence chief Abdallah al-Sanussi for alleged crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution.
“Justice must be delivered to the victims of serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed in Libya during and following the brutal repression of pro-reform protests earlier this year,” said Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International.
“Al-Gaddafi and others who are accused of orchestrating this bloody crackdown must be held to account.”
Al-Gaddafi is accused of ordering a wave of killings and enforced disappearances of suspected critics of the government after protests against his rule began in February in Benghazi, inspired by mass protests across the Middle East and North Africa.
When ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested the arrest warrants in mid-May, he alleged that the three suspects had committed widespread and systematic attacks against civilians.
Amnesty International’s research in Libya has repeatedly pointed to evidence of possible crimes against humanity and war crimes. These include a pattern of repeated and widespread indiscriminate attacks by al-Gaddafi forces on residential areas in Misratah, using “Grad” rockets, mortars and cluster bombs.
“A failure to arrest and prosecute the accused men would send a disturbing message that such crimes can continue to be committed with impunity,” said Michael Bochenek.
“No one should be allowed to evade international justice.”
All UN member states are obliged to deny safe haven to those accused of crimes under international law.
This is the second time that an ICC arrest warrant has been issued for a sitting head of state – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has faced arrest since 2009 on charges of genocide, crimes and humanity and war crimes.
Al-Gaddafi arrest warrant ‘a step towards justice’ (16 May 2011)
Bringing Power to Justice: Absence of immunity for heads of state before the International Criminal Court (Report, 9 December 2010)