Much like his father, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is proving to be a thorn in the side of the international law community, albeit for slightly different reasons. After meeting with Libyan officials, the International Criminal Court again requested the right to try Muammar’s son in The Hague. According to Reuters, Tripoli reiterated its refusal:
The ICC this month rejected Libya’s request to postpone handing over Saif al-Islam to face war-crimes charges. It ordered Tripoli to “comply with its obligations to enforce the warrant of arrest” and surrender him without delay.Libya has appealed the decision and will be presenting a challenge to the admissibility of the case to the Hague.
The ICC and human rights groups such as Amnesty International have questioned whether the Libyan justice system is equipped to meet the standards of international law. One of the chief points of contention is the death penalty. Libyan law allows it; the high minded, European-designed, purer-than-thou ICC does not.Of course, the entire question may be moot. The Libyan government currently does not have custody of Saif al-Islam and has so far failed to persuade the fighters who captured him in November to hand over the former dictator’s son.But let us assume this is but a temporary obstacle and Qaddafi Jr. is eventually handed over to the central government. Libya should blow off the officious ICC and try its own. If the courts in chaotic Libya aren’t perfect and the Dear Loon can’t get a perfect trial, that is justice of a sort. Who helped wreck the country and degrade its legal system in the first place? And ICC scruples about the death penalty make it an unfit tribunal for those whose horrible crimes demand death. If the ICC were running things, Herman Göring and the commandant of Auschwitz would have gotten off with life in a comfy prison, with regular visits from friends and family, books to read, and more and better food to eat than most people in postwar Europe. That would have been an obscene miscarriage of justice.In general, the types of crimes that the ICC is set up to try often require exactly the penalty the ICC is too dainty and high minded to impose. There is not much to admire in contemporary Libya but even so Libyans have and should have the right to try their own oppressors, and to execute justice upon them.