ICC extends deadline Saif al-Islam Gaddafi deadline

While I am indeed glad to see the international community coming together, this is not how I would have wanted to see things happen. But, getting everyone involved here to cooperate is no easy task and I greatly respect those who have worked so hard to make it so, and so I freely accept this as a suitable course of action.

Whether or not Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, is guilty of the crimes he has been charged with by the ICC (International Criminal Court, in The Hague) is not for me to say, nor do I propose to pass judgement here and now. I firmly believe everyone, including those accused of crimes against humanity, have the right to a fair trial and to be treated equally throughout the entire judicial process. After all, they are still human.

When Saif al-Islam was captured, the new government of Libya told the ICC they wanted to try him in Libya instead of The Hague, and the ICC agreed to this with the condition they would be duly assured he would receive a fair trial. From the ICC's standpoint, it is not as important where the trial is held so long as it is held in a fair and just manner; in this particular situation the importance of Libya trying the (a) case was not lost on the ICC either. To quote the ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, "The standard of the ICC is that it has to be a judicial process that is not organised to shield the suspect. [...] I respect that it's important for the cases to be tried in Libya." While the ICC was under no legal or jurisdictional obligation to agree to Libya's request regarding the trial of Saif al-Islam, to do otherwise would have constituted no more than an act of bad faith from the international community towards the newly "liberated" Libya as denying their request to hold the trial themselves would indicate a lack of trust in their justice system. As is, the ICC agreed to Libya's request but wants assurance it will be a fair trial and set a deadline for a report on the health and status of Saif al-Islam.

Today the BBC reported an extension in the deadline given to Libya by the ICC for their conditional report on Saif al-Islam, stating it has been moved to the 23rd of January. While this development will no doubt raise questions about Libya's abilities to fairly and justly prosecute the son of their former leader, especially with various human rights organizations calling for the closure of Guantanamo Bay citing numerous human rights offenses against its political detainees, it is worth noting Human Rights Watch representatives have seen Saif al-Islam and that he is not completely sequestered away from all others.


Ideally, things should be different. First of all, I would like to see Saif al-Islam tried by the ICC in The Hague, not Libya. It is not so much that I doubt Libya's abilities to fairly prosecute him - though I will always have my doubts about any country trying one of their own, regardless of history - but more so I would like to see the ICC stepping up its international presence. For this to have happened, Libya would not have requested Saif al-Islam stand trial in Libya; once they did that, of course the ICC should allow it so long as it can be done properly, which is what they did. Second, Libya should be more forthcoming with information. I understand the new government is trying to rebuild the nation and after all the conflict, turmoil, death, destruction, etc. there are many important issues for them to address - like ensuring clean water, food, shelter, and other essentials for human life. They certainly have a lot to do and rebuilding a nation deserves admiration. That being said, if they cannot ensure the ICC is aware of Saif al-Islam's status or meet the other requirements, then it would be best for them to politely hand him over to the ICC. It is important for them to process their own cases, but above all else it is crucial justice be fair. Under the circumstances (rebuilding a nation), it is completely understandable for the necessary resources to be unavailable. Like I said, there are other, very important matters that need to be addressed by Libya, and I would prefer to see them hand this case over to the ICC - even temporarily - so they could focus their efforts on the people. The lack of information sincerely makes me wonder if they are stretching what little resources they have right now (post-NATO attacks it is amazing they have anything) a little too thin, and perhaps taking on too much in an attempt to prove themselves to the world. Yes, Libya has a lot to prove, but I do not want justice to suffer as a result. This is why we have the ICC and the UN, is it not?

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