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International Criminal Court begins Libya investigation

Luis Moreno-Ocampo

Luis Moreno-Ocampo

From the ICC website:

On Thursday 3 March 2011 International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, in accordance with the requirements under the Rome Statute will announce the opening of an investigation in Libya.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011) provides jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court over the situation in Libya since 15 February 2011. As per the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor shall proceed with an investigation unless there is no reasonable basis to believe that crimes falling under the ICC jurisdiction have been committed.

Following a preliminary examination of available information, the Prosecutor has reached the conclusion that an investigation is warranted.

Tomorrow at a press conference in The Hague, the Prosecutor will present an overview of the alleged crimes committed in Libya since 15 February 2011 and preliminary information as to the entities and persons who could be prosecuted and put them on notice to avoid future crimes.

The Office of the Prosecutor is liaising with the United Nations, the African Union, the Arab League, as well as States. Additionally, the Prosecutor will also request information from other sources including from Interpol who will provide assistance. The Prosecutor will act independently and impartially.

The next step is for the Prosecutor to present his case to ICC judges who will then decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants based on the evidence.

The New York Times elaborates:

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said he hoped that at this stage his actions could have a deterrent effect. He said he was putting senior officials in Libya — “individuals with formal or de facto authority” — on notice that they could be held responsible if forces under their command committed crimes.

In addition to Col. Qaddafi and his sons, the prosecutor is expected to investigate the heads of security and military intelligence, the foreign minister and the head of Libya’s external security organization.

Until now, he said, the serious episodes all involved attacks against civilians by government-led forces. But he warned that “some opposition groups also have weapons. If they commit crimes, their leaders will also be investigated.”

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said his office in recent days had been inundated with reports from inside and outside the Libya. “Today I even received a letter from the lawyer of the Qaddafi family. He asked that the investigation be fair,” the prosecutor said.

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.