Will the ICC Come After Qaddafi?

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenashots/5459794919/in/set-72157625965791015/">Messay Shoakena</a>/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Last Wednesday, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, told the UN Security Council that the results of the investigation he’d requested into Libya were in: Members of the Qaddafi government had allegedly perpetrated crimes against humanity. Further, he said he was going to request three arrest warrants from the court. For whom, he wouldn’t say. Even when I asked him after he’d had a Bellini at the end of that long day.

Last night, Al Arabiya reported that two of the three warrants would be for Muammar Qaddafi and his son Saif. If true, this wouldn’t be the first time the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for a head of state. Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was slapped with one in 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and got another for genocide last year. Those warrants led Bashir to throw a bunch of aid workers out of his country, and isolated him from some parts of the international community. (Shortly after the first warrant was issued, he canceled a trip to neighboring Uganda, an ICC member state.)

UN Dispatch‘s Mark Leon Goldberg posits that this time, though, indicting a head of state wouldn’t really make any difference. “Qaddafi is already a man in hiding,” he writes, “so it is hard to see how this impending arrest warrant will have any near-term consequences for the situation on the ground in Libya.”

Ocampo, for his part, still won’t say if Qaddafi’s on the shitlist. “Don’t trust rumors,” he said simply when I asked him via email about the Al Arabiya report. But he would say that he thinks the repercussions of the soon-to-be-unveiled case will be huge. Tonight, I’m headed back to Europe to witness the preparations for further announcements about the case on next Monday.

The speed of the Libya case already makes it stand out from the court’s nine-year history. In the case of Sudan, the conflict went on for years, and then the Security Council deliberated for three months before referring the case to the ICC. In Libya? “Ten days of conflict, two days of discussion,” Ocampo likes to say. The next thing he said is the only thing I heard him repeat more frequently during our interview in New York last week: “The world is changing.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest