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UN Human Rights Council: Renew Libya Fact-Finding Mission’s Mandate

Mandate Renewal Key to Accountability for Past and Ongoing Violations in Libya

Government of National Accord fighters take positions during clashes with east-based fighters from the Libyan National Army at Al-Yarmouk frontline in Tripoli, Libya on August 29, 2019. © 2019 Amru Salahuddien/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)

(Geneva, September 21, 2021) – United Nations Human Rights Council member states, including Libya, should continue to support the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya by renewing its mandate during its 48th session, which began on September 13, 2021, seven human rights organizations said today.

Impunity for past and ongoing violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law drives violence and longstanding instability in the country. Members of armed groups, militias, and security forces continue to carry out extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and arbitrary arrest and detention throughout Libya.

In a positive step toward addressing Libya’s human rights situation, in June 2020, the Human Rights Council established the Fact-Finding Mission to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed in the country since 2016. The mission was established by a resolution sponsored by the African Group, including Libya, and adopted by consensus. However, due to the UN liquidity crisis and delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the mission only became fully operational in June.

After merely four months of effective operation, the mission will present its findings to the Human Rights Council on October 7, while its current mandate is due to expire by September 30. The limited time at its disposal and the movement restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic have severely hampered the mission’s ability to effectively discharge its mandate, limiting its access to the country and its ability to investigate the wide range of human rights violations and abuses committed over the past five years.

In a joint letter issued on July 14, the organizations underscored the critical need to renew the mission’s mandate, a call recently made by the mission itself following its experts’ first visit to Libya in late August. Tracy Robinson, one of the experts, emphasized that “a full determination of the violations and abuses committed in Libya since 2016 requires significantly more time,” while Chaloka Beyani, another of the mission’s experts, said, “[w]e hope that the Human Rights Council will consider renewing our mandate and we welcome the support of the Libyan authorities in this regard.”

The mission plays a key role in tackling impunity in Libya and giving victims an opportunity to have their voices heard and their rights upheld. To ensure that this initiative has a meaningful impact, Human Rights Council member states should demonstrate their commitment to accountability for past and ongoing violations in Libya by renewing the Fact-Finding Mission’s mandate and allowing its vital work to continue.

Signatory organizations:

  1. Amnesty International
  2. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  3. Human Rights Watch (HRW)
  4. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  5. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  6. Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL)
  7. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

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