The international Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has announced that it will seek the arrest Muammar Gaddafi for crimes linked to the brutal suppression of demonstrations against his 42-year rule. I do not question the violations committed by Gaddafi. However, I remain uneasy about the criteria used to determine which dictators are prosecuted. The world is crowded with such leaders accused of crimes against humanity. In nearby Syria, President Bashar al-Assad is accused of killing hundreds of protesters and, in Iran, thousands of protesters have been arrested — some executed and others raped or tortured. Even in the United States, we have officials who are accused of war crimes in the use of torture. The point is not to suggest an equality or comparable likeness in the alleged crimes of Libya and the United States. Rather, there remains a concern over selective enforcement in ICC actions.
Critics of universal jurisdiction and the ICC have raised such concerns over the arbitrary basis for such action. The ICC did nothing until other countries lined up against Gaddafi. I share the concerns over the criteria used to pick out leaders or officials for such prosecutions. Once again, I hold no brief for Gaddafi. However, what is the objective standard to pick among the world’s tyrants in this case? What prevents the ICC from simply picking those leaders who are unpopular with Western countries while doing little with other tyrants?
Here the ICC is rather belatedly seeking the prosecute for decades of authoritarian rule. It did not see much of a basis to act after Libya’s sponsorship of the Pan Am terrorist attack. Now it is relying on former officials who participated in the regime’s years of abuse. Some of these officials now admit to sponsoring such attacks like the one with Pan Am — despite their earlier denials and service to the regime. It was only when Gaddafi started killing Libyans in the streets that they suddenly became humanitarians.
17 thoughts on “International Criminal Court Moves To Arrest Gaddafi For Decades of Abuse”
I completely disapprove of the notion of a “world” court that can charge, apprehend, and try American citizens for anything.
This ultimately leads to a surrender of sovereignty.
Jim, I dislike that the ICC is being used in this way, when only the SC has jurisdiction here so enforcement too shouldn’t be as from ICC States Parties. However, the Rome Statute mandates a huge paper trail to specific elements, so there can be some public review.
It’s an icky feeling having the US acting on SC to make ICC referrals.
Jim “. . . nor would the Security Council direct an investigation into China (because China has a veto on the Security Council). The United States is in a similar position.”
If I may quote the Church Lady of SNL:
Refer to my original comment: “. . . its just another first-world club used against third-world thugs”
The ICC has limits to its jurisdiction, put in place by the negotiating powers when the court was created.
One limit is temporal in nature. It cannot prosecute crimes that took place before the Rome Statute came into effect, which was in 2002 or 2003 (I’m sorry, I’m too busy to look it up right now). Thus, it cannot act in the case of the Pan Am bombing, nor is it investigating “decades of authoritarian rule.” It is only investigating recent abuses.
Other jurisdictional limits preclude it from acting in, for example, China. China is not a party to the court, nor would the Security Council direct an investigation into China (because China has a veto on the Security Council). The United States is in a similar position.
The ICC is not a sheriff in the wild west or a hanging judge. It has quite a few steps that it must go through before it can act. I would write more but I have to go to work.
“I hold no brief for Gaddafi but this is just blatant hypocrisy.”
How true. This action shows nothing more than the ability of major powers to eat their own and their vassals.
Are the banks and states that financed Gaddafi’s “brutal suppression” of forty-two years being called to the carpet with him; are the banks and states that sold weapons to Gaddafi over his forty-two years of rule being accused of collusion?
Hell no, they’re the ones that are sweeping in for the spoils after the pressure of Mubarek and the ensuing “uprisings” created a crack in the finely hewed walls of isolation built by the British and sustained by France, America, and let’s not forget those amiable Dutch and Germans.
After forty-two years of rule the ICC now notices something is amiss?
Prof. Turley’s points are right on target. Ultimately, the authority of any court rests upon general acceptance of its determinations. That requires respect for its integrity. If the ICC is perceived as nothing more than the judicial arm of the most powerful and politically influential nations, it will quickly lose its efficacy.
Baltazar Garzon’s criticism of the Obama administration gets to the heart of the matter.
“I’ll be impressed when they move to arrest the Bush administration. Till then its just another first-world club used against third-world thugs”
“Bush et al….gonna do one should do em all…..”
Agreed – 100%. But, I won’t hold my breath … I will die of suffocation waiting for that to happen …
Bush et al….gonna do one should do em all…..
This seems like a good thread to link: http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/ . I haven’t seen any articles here about this growing issue (Gunrunner). Based on the information gathered on the sipsey blog, this IS going to be a large problem for the administration. Have you all heard it in the news? It has been getting little blips on the big media outlets, but nothing worthy of its size. Please take a look!
I agree. I wouldn’t be surprised if the NATO allies pressured the ICC to act at this time.
I hold no brief for Gaddafi but this is just blatant hypocrisy. As
stated in the post there are literally dozens of other dictators world wide whose human rights records are as bad as his, China for one and yet he is chosen as the others are ignored. To me the essential problem with this is how these decisions come to be made and what is the international law that supports them. The possibility, indeed likelihood of abuse is great. As Gyges mentioned too, how about US abuses. This is not really about the Rule of Law, but the selfish interests of nations, most of which we lowly citizens can only guess at.
I wonder if that old saw, never make an order you can’t enforce, is coming into play. I mean, if the U.S. can’t get it’s buddies to play nice and arrest a well known director, do we really think the ICC would every be able to get their hands on Bush and Cheney?
Next up: arrest warrants for the previous criminal enterprise posing as a presidency.
I’ll be impressed when they move to arrest the Bush administration. Till then its just another first-world club used against third-world thugs
It’s not just dictators that merit prosecution.
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