Former Libyan Colonel and Chief of Military Intelligence Abdullah al-Senussi was arrested in Mauritania on 18 March by Mauritanian and French officials. He was one of three Libyan officials charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC in June 2011 and is currently wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity during the 2011 crisis in Libya, the French government in connection< span style="font-size:10.0pt;"> with a 1989 terrorist attack, and Libya for crimes committed during former leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. Mauritania has not yet released its decision on whether al-Senussi will be transferred to the Hague, Paris or Tripoli. An analysis of al-Senussi’s arrest and extradition can be found in a recent ICRtoP blog post, ‘al-Senussi Arrest: Conflicting Extradition Requests, Concerns About Libya’s Justice System’.
Meanwhile, on 25 March, Human Rights Watch praised the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) for its efforts in landmine destruction. Despite this, the NTC has been criticized for failing to assert its authority across Libya, where rival militias and tribal groups are fighting for power. New challenges have arisen regarding accountability over the death of migrants who fled Libya during the crisis. In a 29 March re port, the Council of Europe condemned NATO for its failure to come to the aid of thousands of fleeing migrants. NATO ships were on patrol in the Mediterranean Sea at the time, enforcing an embargo on Libya as part of UN Security Council Resolution 1973. Amnesty International’s recent report “Libya: The forgotten victims of NATO airstrikes” called on NATO to investigate civilian casualties during its 2011 mission in Libya. Further discussion on the challe nges moving forward can be found on the ICRtoP blog post ‘Civil society responses to post-RtoP Libya’.
Libya: Civilian deaths from NATO airstrikes must be properly investigated
19 March 2012
NATO has so far failed to investigate the killing of scores of civilians in Libya in airstrikes carried out by its forces, Amnesty International said today in a new briefing paper released a year after the first strike sorties took place.
Libya: The forgotten victims of NATO Strikes says that scores of Libyan civilians who were not involved in the fighting were killed and many more injured, most in their homes, as a result of NATO airstrikes. Amnesty International said that NATO has not conducted necessary investigations or even tried to establish contact with survivors and relatives of those killed.
The organization said that adequate investigations must be carried out and full reparation provided to victims and their families. (…)
NATO appears to have made significant efforts to minimize the risk of causing civilian casualties, including by using precision guided munitions, and in some cases by issuing prior warnings to inhabitants of the areas targeted. But this does not absolve NATO from adequately investigating the strikes which killed and injured scores of civilians and from providing reparation to the victims and their families.
Investigations must look into whether civilian casualties resulted from violations of international law and if so those responsible must be brought to justice. (…)
Many of the deaths occurred as a result of airstrikes on private homes where Amnesty International and others have found no evidence to indicate that the homes had been used for military purposes at the time they were attacked. (…)
In its latest response to Amnesty International, on 13 March, NATO stated that it "deeply regrets any harm that may have been caused by those air strikes” but “has had no mandate to conduct any activities in Libya following OUP’s (Operation Unified Protector) termination on 31 October 2011” and that the “primary responsibility” for investigating rests with the Libyan authorities. (…)
Moreover, NATO did not take any steps to conduct investigations into reports of death and injury of civilians resulting from its strikes in areas which had come under the control of the new Libyan authorities (the National Transitional Council, NTC) prior to 31 October 2011 and which were thus safely accessible. (…)
NATO must ensure that prompt, independent, impartial and thorough investigations are conducted into any allegations of serious violations of international law by participants in Operation Unified Protector and that the findings be publicly disclosed. Wherever there is sufficient admissible evidence, suspects should be prosecuted.