Legal Analysis and Commentary from Justia

After Qaddafi

Qaddafi’s much-abused body has finally been laid to rest, in an unmarked grave in the desert.  His fate has fallen off the front pages of the U.S. news, eclipsed by the European debt crisis, the elections in Tunisia, and the bid by “Joe the Plumber” for a seat in Congress, even as ever more horrific videos emerge of Qaddafi’s tormented last minutes alive.

Was it reasonable to expect that the rebel troops who captured Qaddafi would handcuff him and bring him to jail?  How much does it matter that he was treated with the most extreme brutality, shoved by the crowd, beaten bloody, and, it now appears, sodomized?  Should we care that Qaddafi’s death makes Saddam Hussein’s last moments on the gallows seem dignified?

Few in Libya seem bothered.  “You have to bear in mind that these young man have seen their friends killed in front of them . . . their cities burned . . . their sisters raped. I am amazed at their self-restraint,” Libya’s interim oil minister reportedly told CBS News, responding to allegations of atrocities.

There was little sign of self-restraint in the fate of Qaddafi, his son Muatassim, the head of the loyalist armed forces, and their bodyguards.  Nor is self-restraint the word that comes to mind in reading about the hundreds of putrid bodies being discovered in Sirte, many with their hands tied behind their backs.  But at least the oil minister gave fragments of a convincing explanation, unlike other top Libyan officials, who initially asserted that Qaddafi died in a “crossfire,” and later said that he may have been killed by loyalists who wanted to silence him.

Qaddafi was brutally killed in a display of revenge, hatred, domination, and fury, and his body was displayed for days as a trophy.  This, at least, is what the available evidence suggests.

Whether Libya’s interim government wanted Qaddafi dead, or whether they were unable to enforce military discipline among the Misrata troops, is not entirely clear.  The latter possibility seems more likely, and is perhaps more worrying.  The existence of armed groups that are beyond the law and out of the government’s control bodes poorly for the country’s future stability.

So what is next for Libya, now that the dictator is gone?  Sadly, in the wake of Qaddafi’s death, the hopeful words of UN human rights official Philippe Kirsch are harder to credit:  “The dawn of a new era provides an opportunity for the NTC and the future interim government in Libya to make a break from [the] past,” he suggested, “by establishing laws and reconstructing state institutions based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.”

Qaddafi is gone but the country’s human rights problems are not.  While a genuine and impartial investigation of Qaddafi’s killing would send a strong signal that a new era has arrived, this seems unlikely to happen.  One very much hopes that Qaddafi’s grisly demise is not a harbinger of things to come.

Joanne MarinerJoanne Mariner, a Justia columnist, is the director of Hunter College's Human Rights Program. She is an expert on human rights, counterterrorism, and international humanitarian law. She is the author of the Human Rights Watch report, No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons. She is a co-author of the new Human Rights Watch report, “In the Name of Security: Counterterrorism Laws Worldwide since September 11.”
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6 Responses to After Qaddafi

  1. Jerrysknob says:

    Another frickin Pig destroyed…All of the far East countries will get sick of the BS their dictators do and eliminate them and their families…I say to all the bleeding heart people around the world keep your dammed mouths shut and let the will of the people go on…..

  2. guest says:

    Your concerns about human rights and the international law
    are correct. However, the news that have been suppressed is that the US
    Officials crimes (Hillary Clinton and Obama) ommitted war crimes. Gadaffi
    appears to have been killed because his convoy was bombed after a truce
    negotiated his safe passage out of Libya.

    HERE IS SOME ADDITIONAL INFORMATION TO READ

     

    USA Fired On Qaddafi After Truce?(1 of 4)Qaddafi Flying White Flag When Killed!

    Wayne Madsen

     

    Hillary Clinton knew of Qaddafi ‘White Flag’
    truce: US drone fired at Qaddafi convoy after negotiated truce

    http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2011/10/26/hillary-clinton-knew-qaddafi-%E2%80%98white-flag%E2%80%99-truce-us-drone-fired-qaddafi-convoy-after-

  3. R Harneis says:

    Of course it is equally possible and indeed probable that Ghadaffi was deliberately left in the hands of out of control fighters who both the rebel government and their NATO friends knew would kill him.

    For the Western powers this had a double advantage First it silenced a potentially very embarrassing witness to recent diplmatic and other goings on. Second it discredited the Islamic element amongst the rebels. The bestiality revealed on the net also warns any other leader to cooperate in future or else… Very neat.

    Congratulations to Joanne Mariner incidentally for managing to write an apparently caring article without once mentioning the activities of NATO/USA/France/Britain/Quatar etc.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This madmen slaughter reminds me of a  old cartoon flick. A man owned a home which one mose occupied his home and then more came in and ate his food. He took in a cat and the mice problem was solved.The cut brought in more cats and owner couldn’t sleep due to the cat calls and total control. Now what to do with the cats–he decided to hire the help of local bull dog-Spike–Cats left pronto–Homeowner good another bigger  problem–whole neighbourhoods dogs–staying put
    If you having caught on–the rebels are the cats and mean dogs are USA/Canada/Brits/French/Wops

  5. stevieb says:

    Absolutely dead on.  The NATO mission in Libya has been a human rights disaster, too.  If I were a Libyan I’d be very concerned about my countries future – I’d be  far from thinking that Gaddafhi’s death will herald “a break from [the] past… by establishing laws and reconstructing state institutions based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.” 

    IMO the real story is the international cabal that has as an agenda of destabilizing and conquering the ME in which the first victim was Iraq…

  6. Pingback: After Qaddafi « Stop Making Sense

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