FIDH urges the ICC to continue investigations into grave crimes against Sub-Saharan African migrants

Dear Mr Moreno Ocampo,

We are writing to alert you to the findings of an international fact-finding mission, conducted by FIDH at the Libya-Egypt border, from 8-14 May 2011. The mission collected numerous and consistent testimonies about crimes committed against migrants originating from Sub-Saharan Africa in Eastern Libya. You will find the report of the mission enclosed.

The FIDH mission conducted interviews with over 50 migrants, mainly young men who had been working in Libya and who originated from Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and other Sub-Saharan African countries, at the Salloum Land Port on the Egyptian side of the Eastern Libyan border. FIDH documented numerous allegations of targeting and killing of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, falsely accused of being mercenaries. These crimes are said to have been perpetrated by armed groups in Eastern Libya, including in Benghazi and other areas now under the control of the Interim National Council. The evidence collected by the mission, from  victims and witnesses to these crimes, indicates that such crimes were widespread. Other crimes allegedly targeting the Sub-Saharan African population in Libya since the outset of the crisis, include theft, pillage and arbitrary arrest and detention.

As you indicated in your report to the Security Council on 4 May 2011 and subsequently, such crimes may amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes and as such fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This analysis was confirmed in the report of the Commission of Inquiry of the United Nations Human Rights Council presented to the Council on 6 June (see in particular pages 6 and 7).

FIDH welcomed your announcement at press conferences on 16 May and 29 June 2011 that a priority focus of the ongoing ICC investigation is “allegations of attacks against sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries”. However, we are concerned that during the latter event, you also indicated orally that your investigations would not focus on these allegations for the time being. FIDH has repeatedly warned against the consequences of sequential investigations (i.a. risk loss of evidence and perception of lack of impartiality) and we reiterate them here. We call upon the ICC to continue such investigations and to send a strong signal that such crimes cannot go unpunished.

A democratic and peaceful Libya must be built on foundations of truth, justice and accountability. FIDH encourages your office to investigate all crimes falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction, committed by all sides to the conflict.

We look forward to receiving your response to the issues raised in this letter and to exchanging further with you on these matters.

Yours sincerely,

Souhayr Belhassen
FIDH President

– END –

Press contact:
Arthur Manet: +33 6 72 28 42 94 / +33 1 43 55 90 19
Twitter: @fidh_ngo

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