Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Briefing on the International Criminal Court and the Situation in Libya, 05 May 2020

Mr President,

South Africa expresses its appreciation to the Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, for her briefing provided today on the situation in Libya.
South Africa continues to support the implementation of Resolution 1970, which apart from imposing a vital arms embargo, also mandates the ICC to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the context of Libya since 15 February 2011.

We note with concern that the non-execution of arrest warrants for ICC fugitives remains the greatest obstacle faced by the Prosecutor. Cooperation between the Security Council and States Parties to the Rome Statute is vital to advance those cases and will send a message to the people of Libya and to the world underscoring the important role of international cooperation.  South Africa ardently supports strengthening complementarity through the development of domestic institutions to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes.

South Africa commends the Prosecutor’s efforts to promote the investigation and prosecution of international crimes committed in Libya in its domestic jurisdiction where viable and appropriate. South Africa believes that cooperation with the ICC remains imperative and South Africa is encouraged by the continued engagement of the Libyan authorities, and their commitment at the highest level to cooperate with the office of the Prosecutor. We further welcome assistance provided to the Prosecutor’s Office by international and regional organisations, civil society groups, and private individuals.

Mr President,

South Africa believes that progress in the Libyan peace process is vital in order to address the concerns that necessitated the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1970, of which the ICC process is part. We remain concerned over the ongoing fighting in Libya, including the resultant displacement of people, indiscriminate attacks that cause damage to civilian property and infrastructure, as well as civilian deaths and injuries (in particular deaths and injuries to children).

We have noted with deep concern reports on the escalation of abductions and enforced disappearances of journalists, civil society activists, lawyers, migrants, and State officials, by armed groups during this COVID-19 outbreak, which have a negative effect on the spreading of the virus to those affected. South Africa is also concerned about reports of migrants being subjected to arbitrary detention, unlawful killing, enforced disappearance, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, abduction for ransom, extortion and forced labour.

We are concerned about the prevailing environment and challenges faced by the people of Libya and the Office of the Prosecutor as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will require a pragmatic and condition-based approach for expeditious finalisation of investigations and prosecution of international crimes committed in Libya.

Mr President,

South Africa welcomes efforts undertaken to implement Strategic Goal 6 of the Office of the Prosecutor’s Strategic Plan for 2019-2021 of actively engaging with States and relevant organisations to exchange evidence and information, and which supports national authorities to investigate and prosecute migrant-related crimes in their respective jurisdictions.

South Africa calls on all parties and stakeholders to recommit all efforts towards building durable peace in Libya on the basis of inclusive political dialogue as the only viable means to achieving sustainable peace in Libya. We also acknowledge and emphasise the role of the UN Security Council in promoting political dialogue and supporting all efforts to bring about a peaceful settlement of this conflict.

I thank you for your attention.


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