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UN Human Rights Council Set to Fail People of Libya

Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update on Libya

Protracted conflicts, unaccountable militias and the deterioration of general public services, are hardly making headlines, but in Libya, civilians are acutely suffering from them.

Throughout the country, armed groups, some affiliated with one of the two competing governments, attacked civilians and civilian properties, abducted, disappeared, forcibly displaced, tortured and seized homes of civilians in reprisal for alleged affiliations with armed militant groups. Thousands remain in long-term arbitrary detention. Human Rights Watch documented scores of extra judicial executions of fighters and civilians in 2017, most notably in eastern Libya.

Over 160.000 people remain internally displaced because of conflict. Thousands who left their homes during fighting in Benghazi are unable to return, due to threats and reprisal crimes including killings by forces affiliated with the Libyan National Army. Militias from Misrata continue to block 40,000 forcibly displaced people from Tawergha from returning to their homes, after nearly seven years of dispersal around the country.

Tens of thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers who flock to Libya in the hope of departing for Europe face arbitrary detention, abuse, sexual assault and forced labour.

Since the collapse of the central authority in 2014, key institutions, most notably law enforcement and the judiciary, have been dysfunctional in most parts of the country. Prosecutors, judges and lawyers risk attacks, threats and harassment. The International Criminal Court has a mandate to investigate serious crimes in Libya, but more is needed to address ongoing grave abuses in the country.

A political settlement and any semblance of rule of law seem elusive.

Since the end of the original Commission of Inquiry for Libya in 2012, Council members have consistently fallen short of taking measures that are well within their mandate to at least curb the raging impunity in Libya, such as establishing the mandate of an independent expert. Given the gravity of the situation on the ground in Libya, how can this Council justify the lack of a dedicated monitoring and reporting mechanism? The human rights of Libyans, as well as the Council’s credibility, is at stake when Council members and observers allow narrow interests to trump accountability. 

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