Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), on Wednesday demanded the arrest and surrender of three Libyan fugitives wanted by the court.
In a briefing to the Security Council on the ICC's work on Libya, Bensouda noted that arrest warrants remain outstanding against Mahmoud al-Werfalli, an officer of the Libyan National Army (LNA); Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the second son of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi; and Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, the former head of the Libyan Internal Security Agency during the final years of the government of Muammar Gaddafi.
The three fugitives stand accused of grave international crimes. Those crimes include the war crimes of murder, torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity, and the crimes against humanity of persecution, imprisonment, torture, and other inhumane acts, said Bensouda.
Her office has reliable information on the current whereabouts of all three suspects. Yet, the three men remain at large, and justice still eludes the victims of their alleged crimes, she told the Security Council.
Gaddafi is believed to be in Zintan, Libya; Al-Tuhamy resides in Cairo; al-Werfalli continues to enjoy his liberty in the Benghazi area in Libya, said Bensouda.
Credible reports indicate that the General Command of the LNA promoted al-Werfalli on July 8 from major to lieutenant colonel, she said.
"This promotion sends a clear message that Gen. Khalifa Haftar, commander of the LNA, has no intention to genuinely prosecute Mr. al-Werfalli for the crimes alleged in the ICC arrest warrants. On the contrary, it seems that Mr. al-Werfalli continues to be rewarded for his behavior."
She noted that this is the second time the General Command of the LNA has promoted al-Werfalli. The first promotion took place on May 25, 2017, after the videos depicting the first four unlawful executions allegedly perpetrated by al-Werfalli had already been posted online.
Impunity serves both as an obstacle and a threat to stability and must be checked through the force of law, she said. "Perpetrators of serious international crimes are emboldened when they believe they will never face justice. The cycle of impunity has provided a breeding ground for atrocities in Libya."
Breaking this cycle requires a concerted international effort to ensure accountability for atrocity crimes. Through the arrest and surrender of the ICC fugitives, the international community can begin to bring justice to the victims in Libya and help prevent future crimes and victimization, she said.
"I reiterate my call on Gen. Haftar and those working with him, to facilitate the arrest and surrender of Mr. al-Werfalli to the ICC without further delay so that he can answer for his crimes in a court of law and for the truth to be established. I call on all states to do everything in their power to ensure the surrender of all three ICC Libya fugitives to the court. I also call on all parties (in Libya) to immediately cease all indiscriminate attacks and to comply with their duties under international humanitarian law."
Almost a decade has passed since the UN Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC. The people of Libya deserve peace and stability. Bringing those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice facilitates that coveted outcome, she said.
The situation in Libya continues to be grave, Bensouda observed. Reports indicate that since early April 2019, more than 100 civilians have been killed, 300 injured, and 120,000 displaced as a result of the armed conflict.
She reiterated her call for all parties to the armed conflict to pay heed to the rules of international humanitarian law, and said her team continues to examine allegations against all parties to the conflict to assess whether they bear criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute.
"Let me be clear: I will not hesitate to bring new applications for warrants of arrest against those most responsible for alleged crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC," she warned.