Impunity Wins In Libya's Election As War Criminals Take Centre Stage
In Tripoli, Libya, protests have been ongoing against Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, Muammar Gaddafi's son, running for president. The CIA linked Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan Army, is also running to become the next president of Libya. The first round of the 2021 Libyan presidential election will take place on December 24, and the second round will take place on January 24.
"We came here to protest against the candidacy of these criminals who are considered deviant with regard to the constitutional declaration and constitutional rules," said Assem Gebabi, a protester. "We must fix the electoral law, including the conditions of candidacy so that there is no place in Libya for anyone who has committed a crime against the Libyan people," continues Omar Baara, another protester. "No place for anyone who has murdered, stolen, or embezzled funds. These people cannot guarantee a place at the expense of the Libyan people."
The International Criminal Court (ICC) accuses Seif-al-Islam of crimes against humanity committed at the 2011 uprising. He officially submitted his candidacy on Sunday, November 14. Last October, an independent investigation ordered by the UN had exposed numerous crimes against humanity in Libya. These crimes included slaughters, arbitrary detentions, systemic torture, and forced displacement of thousands of people. The government's hindrances have sabotaged many cases. "Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011, state fragmentation and the proliferation of arms and militias vying for control of territory and resources have severely undermined the rule of law in Libya. The country is also the scene of almost uninterrupted armed conflicts "resulting in crimes" against the most vulnerable, including women, children, members of ethnic minorities, refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people inside the country." Said the UN Report focusing on crimes that occurred between 2016 and 2020.
The report highlights the "eruption of violence in the 2019-2020 battle for the Libyan capital of Tripoli between the country's two main factions: the UN-recognized, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GAN), supported by Turkey, Qatar, and Italy, as well as Islamist militias supplemented by thousands of mercenary fighters from Syria - and its rival government in the east of the country, which is defended by the Libyan National Army (ANL ) of former CIA "henchman" Khalifa Haftar, with the support of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, and France."
"The airstrikes killed dozens of families. The destruction of health facilities has had an impact on access to health care, and the anti-personnel mines left by mercenaries in residential areas have killed and maimed civilians," said the president of the fact-finding Mission Mohamed. Auajjar.
Arbitrary detentions are legions in Libya, according to the UN report:
"Most of these prisoners have never been charged, convicted, or sentenced to imprisonment after a fair and public trial. Many are held arbitrarily, some in secret prisons that do not officially exist, sometimes for years with no prospect of release. The families of detainees are not informed of the fate of their loved ones. The prison system has a well-established practice of torturing prisoners. Detention conditions are characterized by poor hygiene, inadequate nutrition, and a lack of separation between children and adults. The Mission documented several death cases from summary executions, torture, starvation, unsanitary conditions, and denial of medical treatment. Sexual violence is prevalent, especially during interrogation, and takes many forms, including rape, threats of rape, or coercion to engage in sexual abuse against other detainees. Women are particularly vulnerable, and the evidence also indicates that men are not immune to sexual violence."
The report also exposed mass crimes against the refugees, mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa, who attempted to cross Libya to reach Europe. There are reports that "LCGs confiscate migrants' property on boats stopped by Libya. Once disembarked, migrants are either transferred to detention centers or reported missing, and there are reports of individuals being sold to traffickers. Interviews with migrants formerly detained in DCIM detention centers established that all migrants - men and women, boys and girls - are held in harsh conditions, and some died. Some children are detained with adults, putting them at high risk of abuse: torture (such as electric shocks) and sexual violence (including rape and forced prostitution)."
"The acts of murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts committed against refugees are part of a systematic and widespread attack directed against this population, in the service of a policy of State. As such, these acts can constitute crimes against humanity." concluded the report. "The violence that has raged in Libya since 2011 and which has continued almost unabated since 2016 has resulted in serious violations, abuses, and crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, against the most vulnerable".
According to accusations, Khalifa Haftar committed war crimes, including the starvation of families during the Civil War.
Seif al-Islam is also, indeed, a controversial candidacy. He avoided the death penalty after being sentenced for war crimes. The Libya Government has since pardoned him. The ICC has repeatedly demanded his arrest and detention for trial for crimes against humanity, specifically "murder and persecution" allegedly committed across Libya in February 2011. In a document provided by the ICC called "Caddafi Case," the case information sheet explains:
"Following the events in Tunisia and Egypt in the early months of 2011, a state policy was designed at the highest level of the Libyan State machinery and aimed at deterring and quelling, by any means, including by the use of lethal force, the demonstrations of civilians against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi which started in February 2011. In furtherance of the above-mentioned State policy, from February 15, 2011, until at least February 28, 2011, the Libyan Security Forces, which encompass units of the security and military systems, carried out throughout Libya – and in particular in Tripoli, Misrata, and Benghazi as well as in cities near Benghazi such as Al-Bayda, Derna, Tobruk and Ajdabiya – an attack against the civilian population taking part in demonstrations against Gaddafi's regime or those perceived to be dissidents, killing and injuring as well as arresting and imprisoning hundreds of civilians. Although not having an official position, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi is Muammar Gaddafi's unspoken successor and the most influential person within his inner circle and, as such, he exercised control over crucial parts of the State apparatus, overseeing finances, logistics and had the powers of a de facto Prime Minister; Muammar Gaddafi, in coordination with his inner circle, including Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, conceived a plan to deter and quell, by all means, the civilian demonstrations against the regime, and that both of them made an essential contribution to implement that plan."
His attempt to grab power is not motivated by virtue nor any wish to make the Libyan people happier or Libya a better place to live. He said: "he was confident that these legal issues could be negotiated away if a majority of the Libyan people choose him as their leader." He also said: "I have been away from the Libyan people for ten years. You need to come back slowly, slowly. Like a striptease. You need to play with their minds a little."
The December elections are crucial for a devastated country where crimes against humanity involving the Libyan government are committed daily with total impunity. The subsequent government must end those crimes, which can certainly not be done by those who instigated this and have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.