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ICC lacks jurisdiction to investigate Libya crimes: chief prosecutor

Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said Wednesday that the ICC cannot investigate possible crimes in Libya [press release] because the country is not a party to the Rome Statute [materials]. Moreno-Ocampo noted that the ICC lacks the authority to intervene until Libya accepts the court's jurisdiction or the UN refers the situation to the ICC, stating:

The decision to do justice in Libya should be taken by the Libyan people. Currently, Libya is not a State Party to the Rome Statute. Therefore, intervention by the ICC on the alleged crimes committed in Libya can occur only if the Libyan authorities accept the jurisdiction of the Court, (through article 12(3) of the Rome Statute). In the absence of such step, the United Nations Security Council can decide to refer the situation to the Court. The Office of the Prosecutor will act only after either decision is taken
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Tuesday urged the Libyan government to end to human rights abuses [JURIST report], stating that the government's response to recent protests may amount to crimes against humanity [press release]. Pillay called for an end to human rights abuses, citing the use of machine guns, snipers and military planes against protesters, and emphasized the need for an independent investigation.

The situation in Libya has escalated over days of continued protests and violent suppression by security forces. On Monday, Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile], announced in a televised address [video] following several days of protests that the Libyan government is considering adopting a constitution [JURIST report] and allowing greater freedoms. The protests began last week following those that have occurred throughout the Middle East and North Africa [BBC backgrounder], resulting in the resignations of Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak [JURIST reports]. Protesters have demanded Gaddafi's resignation and government reform since the start of protests in Benghazi, Libya's second city. Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called for an end to violence against protesters [JURIST report] in Bahrain and elsewhere, referencing recent attempts to quell protests sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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