A disagreement between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the current Libyan government highlights the crises that have worsened during the post-Gadhafi era in the North African state of Libya. Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the martyred leader of Libya, has been held nearly two years by a militia group in Zintan in the western region of the country.
Seif was captured after the rebels supported by the U.S. and NATO seized control of the capital of Tripoli and the city of Sirte. Loyalist forces had held out for eight months against reactionary rebel attacks and a massive NATO bombing campaign that launched 26,000 sorties and 9,600 airstrikes from March 19 to Oct. 31, 2011. Thousands more are still held illegally inside Libya by the counter-revolutionaries.
Both the ICC and the imperialist-created regime in Libya have no right to place Seif al-Islam on trial. The ICC is clearly biased against African governments and rebel leaders, who are their sole preoccupation. The ICC has attacked the leaders of Sudan, Libya and Kenya, drawing harsh criticism from the African Union at its last summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
No imperialist leaders or their allies have been targeted for investigation or prosecution by the ICC, despite all the well-documented war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the U.S., Britain, France, Israel and various NATO states. The ICC has been utilized to bolster imperialist aims and objectives internationally. The U.S. and other Western states are not even signatories to the Rome Statute and are therefore exempt from ICC review.
During the war against Libya, the ICC opened a perfunctory “investigation” into alleged human rights violations and crimes against humanity. The resulting charges were limited to the Libyan government’s defense against the U.S.-NATO-rebel assault, which caused an estimated 50,000-100,000 deaths and the displacement of 2 million Libyans and foreign nationals.
Prior to the war, Libya had been the most prosperous state in Africa, with living standards that rivaled those in Western imperialist states. The political system of Jamahiriya, based on local governing councils, provided food, housing, farmland, medical services and education as part of the social rights inherited by the Libyan people.
Since the toppling of that government, Libya has become a source of instability and economic underdevelopment, both domestically and regionally. Armed militias roam the cities and countryside carrying out atrocities against civilians.
With the failure of the Western-backed regime to provide security and social services to the majority of the Libyan people, it will be impossible for Seif al-Islam to receive any semblance of justice from the almost non-existent criminal justice structures. There is no access to legal advice, no bond hearings and no reasonable method of determining the legitimacy of the charges being brought against Seif al-Islam and other political prisoners inside Libya.
Even during 2012, when a delegation of ICC legal observers visited him in prison, several of their personnel were detained by the militia. Only through international pressure were these individuals released.
ICC orders Seif al-Islam handed over
Saying that the legal and political system in Libya cannot provide the necessary resources for a trial, the ICC has demanded that the GNC and the militia group holding Seif al-Islam hand him over to the international body based in The Hague, Netherlands. The GNC government in Libya has rejected this decision and has launched an appeal against the entire process.
The New York-based group Human Rights Watch, which also played a role in attempts to isolate the Libyan government under Gadhafi, issued a statement supporting the ICC position, saying that the GNC regime should abide by its wishes. However, HRW has said very little about the gross human rights violations being carried out by the Western-backed regime in Tripoli or by imperialist states like the U.S. that routinely abuse civilians in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.
Within the new political dispensation, even former members of the Gadhafi government have been forced to resign after armed actions from various rebel militias. While these individuals had long ago turned their backs on the Libyan people and joined the counter-revolution sponsored by the U.S. and NATO, they have still been forced to leave any positions of putative authority inside the country.
Short of a people’s revolution in Libya, Seif al-Islam and the thousands of other political prisoners should be released and given an option to take up residence in a third country where their safety could be ensured. The Western-backed GNC rebels are actively hunting down former members of the Gadhafi government who have taken refuge in Niger, Mauritania, Egypt, South Africa and other African states.
The political atmosphere inside Libya is turning violently against the U.S.-backed GNC forces. Attacks were carried out against the U.S. compound in Benghazi last September, as well as against other diplomatic outposts from the Western European nations that participated in the overthrow of the Gadhafi government in 2011.
Developments in Libya illustrate clearly the bankruptcy of U.S. and NATO foreign policy in Africa. The imperialists have nothing to offer the people of Africa and other parts of the world except poverty, internal divisions, political chaos and perpetual insecurity and war.