Libya must immediately surrender Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to the ICC

Amnesty International

The Libyan authorities must immediately surrender Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International said, following the Court’s decision to proceed with his prosecution.

A majority of the ICC Appeals Chamber today rejected all four grounds of appeal brought by the Libyan government and upheld an earlier decision of the Pre Trial Chamber that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi should be tried by the ICC. The reasons for the refusal include the government’s failure to demonstrate that he was facing substantially the same case nationally as he would face at the ICC.

“Libya has so far refused to hand Saif over to the ICC. If it continues to do so, the international community – especially the UN Security Council, which referred the situation in Libya to the ICC Prosecutor – must demand that Libya comply with its legal obligations to do so.”

Amnesty International is concerned that the serious security situation in the country threatens to undermine the operation of the justice system. Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi has been held by the Abu Baker al-Siddiq Brigade in the town of Zintan since November 2011 and his rights have not been respected during this period. This militia has refused to hand him over to government custody. He has been held in isolation and was held without access to a lawyer during his detention. He was interrogated without a lawyer in violation of the Libyan Code of Criminal Procedure, and was not brought to any of the sessions of the Indictment Chamber in the pre-trial stage of the proceedings between 19 September and 24 October 2013. He currently does not have access to a lawyer in his ongoing trial in Tripoli.

On 14 November 2013, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi’s detention in Zintan was arbitrary, and requested that the Libyan government takes steps to “discontinue both the domestic proceedings against Mr. Gaddafi and his detention under those proceedings”. The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights has also called on Libya to ensure that he has access to a lawyer of his choice and to refrain from judicial proceedings that could cause irreparable harm to him.

Amnesty International’s concerns are exacerbated by recent changes to the domestic law to allow the use of modern means of communication to connect a defendant to the courtroom whenever there is concern for his or her safety or fear that they may escape. On 14 April, a Tripoli court ordered that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi be tried via video-link along with other defendants in the case. Amnesty International believes that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi’s appearance via video-link not only undermines his right to be present at his own trial but also impedes the judge’s ability to assess his treatment in detention and points to the court’s inability to enforce its authority.