The International Criminal Court prosecutor has announced he will seek arrest warrants for three suspects over the deaths of hundreds of Libyans. Some say this represents a way to bypass the UN resolution and send ground troops into Libya.
The head prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the UN Security Council that there is strong evidence that peaceful protesters were shot during anti-government demonstrations in February.
The US welcomed the ICC prosecutor’s plans to request three arrest warrants for alleged crimes against humanity committed in Libya since February 15. Moreno-Ocampo did not specify who these three people are. However the ICC has been investigating Colonel Gaddafi, some of his sons and aides over what the prosecutor called “a predetermined plan to attack protesters.”
The ICC said now is the time to start planning how to implement these possible arrest warrants. And the interesting part is that carrying out these arrests will require placing foreign forces on the ground to actually do that.
The issue of enforcing any future court warrants is expected to be discussed at the meeting of the coalition countries in Rome on Thursday.
The coalition forces are really edging towards sending in ground troops. The problem is the UN resolution that allowed the military interference in order to protect civilians does not allow foreign troops on the ground.
A NATO spokesperson recently made it clear that they do want a mandate to send in troops. They say there is little sign of progress for either side in the conflict and the aerial bombardment of Libya has reached a dead end, so to break the stalemate they need to do send in troops.
But getting a mandate like that from the UN Security Council will be very difficult, considering all the criticism that the NATO operations in Libya now face. Many are deeply alarmed by the growing number of civilian casualties in Libya.
For example Russia, a prominent member at the UN Security Council, has heavily criticized NATO for going far beyond the UN resolution. Russia actually supports the decision to go after war criminals in Libya, but as Russia’s envoy to the UN said: “What about NATO strikes that killed civilians, who is going to be punished for those?”
Many analysts believe that any ground involvement will lead to an escalation of the conflict and to more violence on the ground. And with these recent developments, coalition forces could be looking for a way to go around the UN resolution.
Some say those ICC warrants may provide that loophole.
Johan Galtung, rector of the Transcend Peace University, believes that now, with the ICC focusing only on crimes against humanity in Libya, and passing over similar situations in Syria and Yemen, we most likely will see a ground operation in Libya.
“There is a principle in law called equality before law,” he said. “Equality before law demands equality in issuing orders for arrests. Any focus on Libya alone only confirms the suspicion.”