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7 November 2012 - Security Council - Libya/Report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court - Statement by Mr Martin Briens, chargé d’Affaires a.i. of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council and to assure you of our full support. I join previous speakers in thanking Ambassador Rosenthal and his team for their work presiding over the Council last month.

I thank Ms. Fatou Bensouda for her report and her briefing today. The points that she made today ref lect the situation in Libya well. As Ms. Bensouda noted, the country is in transition after 42 years of dictatorship. Pro-Al-Qadhafi militias remain active. Not all areas are under control. Tragic events, including the assassination of the United States Ambassador, have shaken the country. But the Libyan authorities have persistently reiterated their commitment to pursuing the democratization of the country, and the Council is committed to helping them. Libya has asked to try Saif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi itself. That is an option created by the Rome Statute. It is also a tribute to that post-conf lict country that it has thus endeavoured to shoulder its responsibilities.

We are pleased that the Libyan Government has chosen to avail itself of its right to challenge the admissibility of the case before the International Criminal Court (ICC), in full conformity with the Statute. As the Prosecutor has reminded us, the final decision on the case of Saif Al-Islam Al-Qadhafi will end up before the judges of the ICC, whose decisions will have to be implemented. Libya’s respect for its international obligations, in particular the provisions of resolution 1970 (2011), is a key indicator of its commitment to the rule of law. It serves as a lesson for other countries, such as the Sudan, that refuse to engage in judicial processes of the Court, contrary to Security Council decisions.

I will not comment further on the inadmissibility proceedings now being considered by the judges; the decision is up to them. But we have no doubt that Libya, in conformity with Council resolution 1970 (2011), will comply with their conclusion.

With respect to the persons detained by militias, the Prosecutor has noted atrocities committed against Tawergha civilians, who were targeted by violence in Misrata.

We welcome the Prosecutor’s discussions with the Government on a global strategy to bring an end to crimes and impunity in Libya. That means that perpetrators must be prosecuted and must benefit from all of the guarantees of a fair trial.

The Prosecutor has also indicated that she will continue her inquiry into alleged crimes of sexual violence committed in Libya by Al-Qadhafi’s forces between 15 February 2011 and the end of the conflict. We commend the attention paid to the dignity of victims.

France was one of the sponsors of resolution 1970 (2011), which remains an example of the ability of the Council, and the international community as a whole, to act rapidly and in unity. In view of the atrocities committed by Libyan leaders, members of the League of Arab States, the African Union, the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference all came together to condemned the atrocities. Resolution 1970 (2011) referred the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and made up the heart of the process that unambiguously marked the total isolation of criminals regardless of rank. It enabled thousands of human lives to be saved.

Lessons must be drawn from our experience in Libya. First, given the atrocities committed, the international community and the Council can make use of an impartial, independent judicial institution that is permanent and immediately operational, in order to identify the main perpetrators of crimes.

After Libya’s example, it has been noted that inaction is more than ever inexcusable. At a time when the Syrian authorities are perpetrating violence against civilians, the Council must reiterate its message on the primacy of the rule of law and the fight against impunity at every opportunity.

In order to be effective, we must regain our clarity. It is not the threat of the ICC that contributes to violence. It is the hope retained by criminals that they will avoid the hand of justice. Hesitation and silence on our part do not help to save lives.

The second lesson is that the International Criminal Court has demonstrated its ability to swiftly act in Libya. I wish to pay tribute to Ms. Bensouda, her predecessor, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, and their teams, whose work has enabled us to understand the workings of the violence in Libya.

An examination of the arrest warrrants on crimes against humanity shows descriptions of planned and systematic attacks against civilians and the methods used, including forced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture, which were used to crush all forms of opposition. After the fact, the international community sometimes tends to forget history. The arrest warrants, which expose the orders that were given to terrify and assassinate civilians, are there to prevent such rewriting of history.

The third lesson is that the Council must be more rigorous. It must improve its planning efforts as well as its cooperation with the ICC when it becomes so involved. That is also a lesson that my delegation would like to take away from the Council’s open debate on its interaction with the ICC (see S/PV.6849), organized by the Guatemalan presidency. We must be able, perhaps by modifying the terms of reference of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals and as part of the sanctions committees, to better manage questions of cooperation and non-cooperation.

The process initiated by resolution 1970 (2011) must run its course. The fight against impunity is crucial for a country such as Libya that has chosen the direction of the rule of law. That is what the Council has also underscored in resolutions 1973 (2011), 2009 (2011) and 2040 (2012). Continuing that process requires both Libya’s full cooperation with the Office of the Prosecutor and the full support of the Council, the Secretariat and Mr. Tarek Mitri, Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, in the efforts of the ICC.

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