Prosecution of Gaddafi at the ICC: The UK Government sets a very important example

By now, it can hardly go unknown for anybody (definitely for anybody who is likely to read this post) that the UN Security Council has adopted rather categorical measures against Muammar Gaddafi, including, among others, his prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC). It seems fair to say that the international community has got quite surprised by the relatively fast response of the Security Council (only a few days after the spark of the revolts and the brutal response by the Libyan leader) and, most notably, by the strength of its reaction. This is the second time since the establishment of the ICC in 2002 that the Security Council submits a case to the Court Prosecutor, the previous occasion being the one of Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, as regards to the crimes committed in Darfur. The resolution of the Security Council is particularly surprising considering that 3 out of the 5 states that hold veto powers, namely, China, Russia and the US, haven´t ratified yet the Rome Statute of the ICC, and are not likely to do so in the near future either.

In this context, the UK Government has set a very important example for other governments. William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary, affirmed yesterday night that he has signed a ‘directive’ revoking the diplomatic immunity of Gaddafi and his family in the United Kingdom. In so doing, the UK Government seems to agree with the position defended by Amnesty International (among other human rights groups) in its recent legal analysis Bringing Power to Justice: Absence of immunity for heads of state before the International Criminal Court (December 2010). This really is a very good piece of news for those of us who believe that there shouldn´t be safe havens for those who are responsible of war crimes, genocides or crimes against humanity. The UK Government must therefore be congratulated. In order to confirm the intensity of its commitment with the cause of human rights, the UK must also take the necessary measures to stop arms sales to Libya and other countries that systematically violate human rights.

As said, I just hope other executives across the globe will also adopt equivalent measures vis-à-vis not only Gaddafi but also Omar al-Bashir and other international criminals, regardless of their hypothetical condition of heads of state or government.

Koldo Casla


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