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Thursday, November 13, 2014

A. ELIZABETH JONES MAKES REMARKS ON ATROCITIES IN LIBYA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
A. Elizabeth Jones, Special Advisor
New York, NY
November 11, 2014
AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Prosecutor Bensouda for – thanks to her for her informative briefing and for the ongoing work of her office to help end impunity for atrocity crimes committed in Libya.

When this Council decided in 2011 to refer the situation in Libya to the ICC, it stressed the importance of accountability. Even with Libya’s increasingly complex and unstable security situation, the call for accountability remains necessary.

Like Prosecutor Bensouda, we are alarmed by the growing number of atrocity crimes in Libya. These abuses and violations are laid out not only in the Prosecutor’s report, but also in the Secretary General’s September report to this Council and in a range of reports from civil society organizations and other observers on the ground. The United States condemns the recent surge in politically motivated killings, kidnappings, and other abuses, many of which appear calculated to silence and intimidate a wide range of actors, from politicians and journalists to human rights defenders and civil society organizations. Assassinations, violence, and the intimidation of judges, lawyers, and the judicial police resulted in the closure of courts in Benghazi, Sirte, and Derna, and the spread of coercion throughout the justice system.

Nevertheless, cooperation with the ICC remains critical. We welcome Libya’s continued coordination with the ICC’s Prosecutor and Registry, including with their memorandum of understanding and their approach to burden-sharing. We encourage Libya to continue to prioritize prosecutions that focus on those who bear the greatest responsibility for their crimes and to explore other accountability measures, such as those envisioned in Libya’s transitional justice law.

Libya and this Council have an interest in ensuring that the alleged perpetrators of atrocity crimes in Libya – including the ex-regime officials who are already the subject of ICC proceedings – are held to account, and that this is done in a way consistent with the rights of the defendants and Libya’s international obligations.

The United States continues to call on all parties to accept an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire that would allow for the political process to proceed, and to engage constructively in the UN-led political dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis.

We are deeply concerned about the explosions near the meeting between Prime Minister Al Thinni and SRSG Leon this past Sunday, November 9th. While the circumstances of that event are unclear, we emphasize that the political process must continue despite the challenging circumstances in Libya, since only a political solution can pave the way for the country’s democratic transition. We support SRSG Leon’s continued commitment to achieving this goal through political consensus.

We urge neighboring countries to support the Libyan government through sustained and constructive engagement. We also support the implementation of this Council’s Resolution 2174, particularly its measures to address threats to Libya’s peace and stability or security. But Libya’s ability to navigate its many challenges – and to secure justice for the worst crimes against Libyan civilians – ultimately depends on the willingness of all parties to the conflict to put Libya’s future above their own narrow political and economic interests.

In conclusion, let me reiterate our thanks to Prosecutor Bensouda and her office for the work they have done to advance the cause of justice for the people of Libya.

Thank you, Mr. President.