Africa In The News

ICC considering investigation into human trafficking in Libya

JOHANNESBURG, May 9 – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has told the United Nations Security Council that her office is considering launching an investigation into alleged migrant-related crimes in Libya, including human trafficking.

“My Office continues to collect and analyze information relating to serious and widespread crimes allegedly committed against migrants attempting to transit through Libya,” said Fatou Bensouda during a Security Council meeting on the North African country’s situation on Monday.

“I’m similarly dismayed by credible accounts that Libya has become a marketplace for the trafficking of human beings,” she added, noting that her office “is carefully examining the feasibility” of opening an investigation into migrant-related crimes in Libya should the Court’s jurisdictional requirements be met.

Bensouda added that reports indicate the country is at risk of returning to widespread conflict, and such an outcome would not bode well for the rule of law in Libya, and would surely aggravate a climate of impunity, which could in turn lead to an ICC investigation into widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.

Turning to specific cases before the court, she said that her office has alleged Al Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, the former head of the Libyan Internal Security Agency under the Muammar Gaddafi regime, was responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The pre-trial chamber of the court found reasonable grounds to believe that the Internal Security Agency, led by Al Tuhamy, along with other Libyan military, intelligence and security agencies, arrested and detained persons perceived to be opponents of Gaddafi and his rule.

The prosecutor said these persons were allegedly subjected to various forms of mistreatment, including severe beatings, electrocution, acts of sexual violence and rape, solitary confinement, deprivation of food and water, inhumane conditions of detention, mock executions, and threats of killing and rape, in various locations throughout Libya.

Bensouda urged Libya as well as State or non-State parties to take immediate action to verify the suspect’s whereabouts and facilitate his arrest and surrender to the court.

She said the Court “unsealed” its arrest warrant for Al Tuhamy to enhance the chances of justice being done.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International on Monday expressed deep concern at the rising number of abductions of civilians by militias, particularly in the west of Libya.

An 11-year-old boy was the latest victim of a kidnapping in the capital Tripoli after he was abducted last Friday in his home in the Ghout Al Shaal neighbourhood by gunmen who forced him into a vehicle.

Highlighting the rising number of kidnappings Amnesty International cited the abduction two weeks ago of Tripoli university professor Dr Salem Beitelmal, who requires regular medication for an illness, by gunmen on the outskirts of the capital.

“The case of Salem Beitelmal illustrates the constant dangers posed to civilians by militias who have continued to intimidate the population, instilling fear and dread through a ruthless campaign of abductions,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s North Africa Research Director.

“It also highlights the complicity of political and state officials who have thus far failed to put a halt to this lucrative practice by militias.”

Morayef said the abductions emphasised the absence of the rule of law in Libya by fuelling chaos and lawlessness, adding that since 2014 hundreds of people had gone missing.

“The authorities must take all measures to end the cycle of violence and fear civilians in Libya are living under today, by effectively investigating such crimes and bringing those suspected of responsibility to justice.”

At least 293 kidnappings were reported in Tripoli in the six weeks between December 15 last year and the end of this January.

“Abductions are also used as a tactic by militias to silence opponents, journalists, and human rights defenders who are critical of them.”

– African News Agency (ANA)

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