Gaddafi must be arrested to face ICC accusations

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcomes the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue warrants of arrest for Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdulah Al-Sanousi. FIDH urges States to execute the arrest warrants without delay.

In a decision rendered yesterday, the ICC confirmed that the allegations against the Libyan Head of State Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and Abdulah Al-Sanousi, Head of the Libyan Military Intelligence, for commission of crimes against humanity are serious enough to have them arrested and brought before the Court in order for them to answer for their crimes. Gaddafi and his son are suspected of having conceived and orchestrated a plan to repress demonstrators and perceived political dissidents against the Gaddafi regime. Abdulah Al-Sanousi is suspected of having executed the plan in certain locations by directing the security forces to attack civilians alleged to be political opponents.

The decision to issue arrest warrants for crimes against humanity, was based upon evidence presented by the Office of the Prosecutor showing a plan to commit murder of civilians and persecution of citizens on political grounds, through the Libyan security forces. These crimes are alleged to have been carried out in the context of a systematic and widespread attack against the civilian population in different locations across the Libyan territory, in particular in Tripoli, Misrata, Benghazi and neighbouring locations as of 15 February 2011. According to the evidence presented to the Court, Gaddafi used his authority over the Libyan military apparatus to commit the most serious crimes and all three suspects have used their power to cover up the crimes by hiding evidence.

“Muammar Gaddafi, Saif El Islam Gaddafi and Abdulah Al-Sanousi must be arrested without delay. All States must get ready to arrest the suspects as soon as they enter their territory. The crimes are of such a serious nature that they affect the international community as a whole. There should be no safe havens for persons accused of committing such crimes. Their arrest could deter commission of further crimes,” said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President.

The investigation leading to the arrest warrants concerns events which unfolded in particular immediately after 15 February and for a couple of weeks, prior to armed confrontations between the Libyan forces and the rebels. FIDH notes that the Prosecutor has indicated that investigations are ongoing and that his office is investigating allegations of war crimes, including rapes, and attacks against sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries. [1] FIDH calls upon the Prosecutor to continue these investigations and to prosecute those bearing the greatest responsibility for crimes committed by all parties to the conflict.

The ICC has no police force. Therefore, States Parties and United Nations (UN) members, including Libya, are responsible for the execution of arrest warrants for the three suspects. During a briefing by the ICC Prosecutor at the UN Security Council, held on 4 May 2011, all Security Council members reaffirmed their support for the ICC investigation and commended the Prosecutor’s swift action in Libya. Such support must now be translated into concrete action: Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdulah Al-Sanousi must be arrested.


Libya has been in turmoil since mid-February 2011 when Gaddafi’s regime started launching massive attacks against protesters and other civilians. The situation in Libya was referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council on 26 February 2011, following Resolution 1970 which was adopted unanimously. The ICC Office of the Prosecutor announced the opening of an investigation on 3 March 2011.

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