TOPIC BRIEFS

ICC v. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi

Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi is the Honorary chairman of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation and acting as the Libyan de facto prime minister. Gaddafi, the second son of the former Libyan dictator Muammar Al Gaddafi, held a crucial role in his father’s dictatorial regime, despite not being assigned a political role. His decisions vastly influenced the regime’s public relations and diplomatic affairs. He grew in power and popularity during the heights of his father’s regime and was appreciated by the majority of the population before the start of the Civil War.

The case was brought to the public by the ICC as a result of the Arab Spring which ignited a Civil War that broke out in Libya from February 15, 2011, to October 23, 2011. The civil unrest in Libya unraveled when rebellions and protests against the regime were handled violently, forcing the hand of foreign countries. As the pro-Gaddafi aggression progressed, the NATO countries decided on a joined military intervention in Libya to force Muammar Gaddafi out of power. During the civil war, the balance of power between the regime and the protestors began to shift in favor of the rebels as soon as sections of the military turned against Gaddafi and foreign support began to increase, ultimately ending the reign of Gaddafi and his death in October of 2011.

Following the events of the Arab Spring in 2011, a State policy was initiated at the highest power of the Libyan State machinery which aimed at deterring by any means any forms of opposition to the regime. Although Saif Gaddafi did not hold any governmental position, he exercised control of inner circles that influenced the dictatorship’s external decisions. The end of the regime and Muammar’s death enabled the newly formed militias to try Gaddafi in Libya and sentence him to death until the ICC took jurisdiction and issued a warrant for his arrest on June 27th, 2011.

The ICC could not try Gaddafi for the alleged crimes he committed during his regime because of his death, however his son Saif was still alive and has allegedly committed crimes against the Libyan people. The warrant of his arrest was issued on the 27th of June in 2011. The Prosecutor considers the jurisdiction of the case that Saif Al Gaddafi is criminally responsible under article 23(3)(a) of the Rome Statute as indirect co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity including Murder, within the meaning of article 7(1)(a) of the Statute; and Persecution, within the meaning of article 7(1)(h) of the Statute.

On one hand, the Prosecution may argue that the regime was an aggressive, authoritarian dictatorship that exercised extreme measures to protect its prosperity at the expense of civilian lives in which the government developed military systems and police forces that carried out attacks throughout Libya. These attacks killed, injured, and imprisoned civilians that participated in demonstrations that rejected the Gaddafi leadership. On the other hand, the Defense may argue that Saif Al Gaddafi played no role in the killing and persecution of civilians. He was born a son of tyrant, but that does not make him a tyrant. It may also be argued that Saif had no political position in the government that gave him official power and should therefore not be held accountable for the crimes perpetrated by his father, arguing that he had no power, meaning he had no responsibility.

Ten years have passed and Saif Al Gaddafi is still at large. The case is left contentious and untried, with loyal supporters of the regime praising him and others waiting for his imprisonment. It is therefore imperative that the ICC finds and hands Gaddafi a fair trial to either prove his innocence or place him behind bars in which justice is served.