Can (will) The Hague succeed where Libyan rebels have yet to?
By Hannah Allam and Jonathan S. Landay
Libya’s has been the most violent of the region’s uprisings. Hundreds of protesters from all over the country are thought to have been killed by Gadhafi’s security forces. The challenge will be to prove it
“The International Criminal Court in The Hague opened a war crimes investigation into Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his sons Thursday as more human rights violations were reported,” the Jewish World Review reports. Gadhafi has a long record of human rights violations and has notoriously suppressed the freedom of religion, especially among Christians. Recently, many migrants in Libya, including a large number of Eritrean Christians, have been caught in the middle of Libya’s civil strife and attacked by Gadhafi loyalists. They are still struggling to leave the country.
2/21/2011 Libya (MCT) – The International Criminal Court in The Hague opened a war crimes investigation into Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his sons Thursday as more human rights violations were reported in a conflict that now seems likely to last for weeks.
A prominent human rights group said it is tracking a worrisome pattern of arrests and disappearances of suspected opponents of the regime, and there were reports that Egyptian and Tunisian migrants in Libya were being attacked by Gadhafi loyalists angry that the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt had inspired anti-Gadhafi protests there.
With Gadhafi’s forces unable to recover key rebellious cities and towns, and with the ragtag rebel force of civilians and military defectors too weak and disorganized to advance on Gadhafi’s Tripoli stronghold, the two-week conflict appeared to be devolving into a violent impasse.
In The Hague, Netherlands, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced the opening of an investigation into allegations that Gadhafi and his inner circle had committed crimes by unleashing their forces against unarmed protesters in the early days of Libya’s insurrection.
“No one has the authority to attack and massacre civilians. As soon as someone commits crimes, this is our business to investigate it and try and stop it,” Louis Moreno-Ocampo said.
Libya has been the most violent of the region’s uprisings. Hundreds of protesters are thought to have been killed by Gadhafi’s security forces.
The U.N. Security Council had asked the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes by the regime. It also banned arms sales and froze the assets of top officials.
Moreno-Ocampo said his targets are Gadhafi and “his inner circle, including some of his sons, who had this de facto authority. There are also some people with formal authority who should pay attention to crimes committed by their people.”
Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said the group is tracking a disturbing trend of arrests and disappearances of suspected regime opponents in the western rebel-controlled city of Misrata, and the capital and largest city, Tripoli.
The number disappearances is in the “50s and 60s” in Misrata, including three brothers from one family who were arrested and now are missing, she said.
“It’s pretty worrying, because it’s the targeting of everyone who’s spoken to the media, who’s passed along information,” said Morayef, who had just returned to Cairo from research in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. “It’s pretty standard practice for internal security.”
Human Rights Watch has confirmed 237 people dead in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the insurrection began, and 417 nationwide.