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Libya – UN Human Rights Council should prioritize justice and accountability

Item 10 Interactive Dialogue on High Commissioner’s report on Libya

Human Rights Watch welcomes the High Commissioner’s report on Libya from January this year detailing the suffering of civilians in armed conflicts around the country, the situation of thousands held in long-term arbitrary detentions, and widespread violations being perpetrated by state and non-state actors. Human Rights Watch continues to document with grave concern deteriorating human rights conditions in Libya amid a humanitarian crisis with over 400,000 internally displaced people, many of whom live in dire conditions; a collapsed economy; and lack of basic services, including failure of the public health system. Armed groups on all sides of the conflicts have attacked civilians and civilian property, and have tortured, unlawfully killed, disappeared and forcefully displaced people.

Forces and armed formations aligned with any of the three authorities vying for legitimacy in Libya, as well as other militias, have been operating in a climate of impunity. This is further exacerbated by the dysfunctional judicial system, which has partially collapsed. Despite a Security Council mandate, and the High Commissioner’s repeated requests to the International Community, the International Criminal Court has yet to open any new investigations into these ongoing crimes, further diminishing prospects for accountability. Civilians bear the brunt of lack of action by international bodies.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers, including children under 18 years, most of whom attempt to cross the Mediterranean on their way to Europe, pass through Libya, where they are exposed to serious violations by coast guard forces, smugglers, and abuse while in detention facilities, including torture, starvation, extortions, sexual violence and forced labour.

Human Rights Watch calls on member states of the Council to make justice and accountability an integral part of the ongoing political discourse, instead of pushing it to the backburner. To this end, we call on you to establish a dedicated mechanism on Libya, to report regularly to the Council on the human rights situation and on progress made toward future accountability.

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