On March 25, 2011, the African Court issued an order for provisional measures against Libya because “a situation of extreme gravity and urgency, as well as risk of irreparable harm” exists in the country.
The Court acknowledged that its order was not premised on “written pleadings or oral hearings,” but the current conditions in Libya warranted the extraordinary measures. The Court also relied on other international organizations—the African Union, the Arab League, and the United Nations Security Council—which have expressed deep concerns about the human suffering in Libya and have called for immediate action against the current regime.
With respect to jurisdiction, the Court relied on Articles 3 and 4 of the Protocol to the African Charter, which Libya ratified in 2003. Article 3(1) provides the Court with jurisdiction to hear disputes “concerning the interpretation of the Charter, the Protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the States concerned.” Moreover, Article 5 of the Protocol allows the Commission to submit claims to the Court. These two factors, the Court ruled, sufficiently demonstrated that the Court had prima facie jurisdiction to accept the application.
The Court ordered Libya to “immediately refrain from any action that would result in loss of life or violation of physical integrity of persons” and “to report to the Court within (...) fifteen days” from the receipt of the order which measures Libya has taken to remedy the breaches of the African Charter. As of publication, there is no information whether Libya has in fact reported to the Court.