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Impunity Rules: Libya Passes Controversial Amnesty Law

by Mark Kersten on 11 May 2012 | Comments

While haggling between the ICC and Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) over the fate of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi continues, Libya quietly, but controversially, passed a blanket amnesty for pro-Revolution rebels.

According to Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL), under ‘Law 38′, amnesty will be granted for any “acts made necessary by the 17 February revolution” and for the revolution’s “success or protection”. Earlier, reports suggested that the amnesty law was being drafted in order to appease Libya’s tribal leaders who presumably fear anti-Gaddafi rebels being held accountable for human rights violations committed during the uprising.

It is no secret that both sides of the conflict committed atrocities. In this context, it is notable that the need for amnesty is in itself an acknowledgement that crimes occurred – otherwise there would be no need for an amnesty in the first place.

Notably, the amnesty law was passed along with ‘Law 37′, which forbids “praising or glorifying Gaddafi, his regime, his ideas or his sons”. Rather precariously, the law claims that Libya is still in a state of war and allows for the imposition of a life sentence on anyone who “harms the state” in glorifying the Gaddafi regime. While, to my knowledge, Western states have remained entirely silent on the subject, LFJL and Amnesty International have harshly condemned the legislation, suggesting that they harken back to the brutal and draconian laws that restricted the freedoms of Libyans under Gaddafi.

But is Libya’s new amnesty law in any way justifiable?

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Source: Justice in Conflict
Photo: UPI/Mohamaad Hosam
Photo: UPI/Mohamaad Hosam