Libya: ICJ calls for Commission of Inquiry or Similar Mechanism at UN

The ICJ today highlighted the need for a Commission of Inquiry or similar accountability mechanism for Libya, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The call came in an oral statement, delivered during an interactive dialogue on Libya. It read as follows:

“The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcomes the oral update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Libya.

Violations and abuses under international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law are being committed by State and non-State actors on a widespread and systematic scale in Libya, including since the resurgence of conflict in April. As noted by the High Commissioner on 9 September 2019, the human rights and potentially lives of migrants “intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard and forcibly returned to Libya … are [also] under serious threat.”

Despite the scale of violations and abuses, only a handful of criminal investigations and prosecutions have been undertaken, resulting in near-total impunity.

A recent ICJ report on the criminal justice system in Libya found that the domestic legal framework governing investigations and prosecutions does not meet international law and standards on the right to a fair trial, the right to liberty and the prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment. As a result, any domestic investigation or prosecution is unlikely to satisfy the requirements of fair and effective justice. Moreover, most crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, are not penalized in domestic law.

These findings undercut the presumption relied upon by States in their engagement with Libya that the Libyan authorities can ensure accountability for crimes under international law.

To fill the accountability gap, the ICJ urges the Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism to document and report on gross human rights violations and to collect and preserve evidence of crimes for future criminal proceedings.

States should also refrain from entering into or implementing agreements with Libyan authorities that could give rise to support for or complicity in violations of international law.”

AdvocacyNon-legal submissions