Libya: Accountability for crimes under international law (UN statement)

The ICJ today emphasised the continuing failure of domestic accountability mechanisms to ensure proper accountability for crimes under international law in Libya, speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The statement, made during an Interactive Dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on her oral update on the situation in Libya, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, read as follows:

“Mr President,

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) remains concerned by the scale and magnitude of the human rights violations that continue in Libya, and the failure of domestic accountability mechanisms to address them.

Impunity prevails for crimes under international law committed during and after the 2011 uprising, including extrajudicial killings, torture and other ill-treatment, and enforced disappearances. Broad amnesty laws allow those responsible to avoid prosecution.

Even in the rare cases where former officials of the Gadhafi regime have faced trial,[1] the integrity of the justice process has been compromised by failures to respect international fair trial standards, including the right to legal counsel and the right to call and examine witnesses.

On August 15, 2018, following an unfair mass trial, 99 defendants were convicted for the killing of 146 anti-Gaddafi protesters in Tripoli during the 2011 uprising.[2] 45 were sentenced to death, violating the right to life.

Such unfair trials and unlawful sentences not only violate the human rights of the accused: they deprive the victims of the crimes of the right to know the truth about the legacy of past violations and the legitimate and untainted justice to which they are entitled. New, fair trials are required.

Political and security instability in Libya undermines the ability of the judiciary to administer justice independently and impartially, including with a view to combating impunity. Judges and prosecutors are threatened, intimidated, abducted and in some instances killed, particularly when attempting to address crimes by members of armed groups.

The ICJ would like to ask the High Commissioner, how can other States and civil society help ensure that Libya, while fully cooperating with the International Criminal Court, implements an effective legal and practical framework to address crimes under international law and eradicate impunity?

Thank you.”

[1] Case 630/2012.


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