ICJ and Defender Center for Human Rights submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Libya

Today, ICJ and the Defender Center for Human Rights (DCHR) filed a submission to the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review in advance of its review of Libya’s human rights record in May 2020.

Information provided in the submission was based on the ICJ report titled Accountability for Serious Crimes under International Law in Libya: an Assessment of the Criminal Justice System, published in July 2019.

In the submission, the ICJ and DCHR drew the attention of the Working Group on the UPR to the following concerns with respect to Libya:

  • Impunity for crimes under international law committed by State and non-State actors;
  • The insufficient penalization of crimes under international law;
  • The lack or inadequacy of investigations and prosecutions of crimes under international law;
  • The systemic failure to guarantee the right to liberty and fair trial rights at pre-trial and trial stages.

The ICJ and DCHR called on the Working Group and the Human Rights Council to urge the Libyan authorities to take the following actions:

With regard to insufficient penalization of crimes under international law:

  • Enact laws criminalizing war crimes, crimes against humanity and arbitrary deprivations of life (in particular arbitrary and summary executions) in line with international law;
  • Amend Law No. 10 of 2013 to bring the definition of torture in line with the Convention Against Torture and the definition of enforced disappearance in line with the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and criminalize other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment consistent with international law;
  • Amend article 425 of the Penal Code to include a definition of the crime of slavery consistent with international law;
  • Amend articles 407 and 408 of the Penal Code to criminalize rape in line with international law and standards; enact laws criminalizing all forms of sexual and gender-based violence; and repeal article 424 of the Penal Code which extinguishes a conviction for rape or indecent assault and grants a stay of execution of the penalty imposed against the perpetrator if they marry the victim; and
  • Amend (or repeal) Law No. 35 of 2012, Law No. 38 of 2012 and Law No. 6 of 2015 to exclude all crimes under international law from the scope of amnesties.

With regard to the obligation to independently and impartially investigate crimes:

  • Amend article 3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) to remove the requirement that an investigation can only be commenced upon the receipt of a criminal complaint, extend the three-month deadline for victims to file a complaint and remove the deadline entirely for crimes under international law and for other serious crimes under domestic law;
  • Amend article 7 of the CCP to grant victims’ family members the right to file a complaint with a view to ensuring the commencement of an investigation;
  • Repeal article 224 of the Penal Code to remove the power of the Minister of Justice to control and direct investigations and prosecutions by the Prosecutor’s Office; and
  • Repeal Decree 388 of 2011 granting the “Supreme Security Committee” investigative powers and article 2 of Law No. 38 of 2012 permitting the use of information and evidence collected by “revolutionaries” during investigations and at trial.

With regard to the systemic failure to guarantee the right to liberty and fair trial rights at pre-trial and trial stages, amend the CCP in order to:

  • Exclude the possibility of detaining an accused on the sole ground that she or he does not have a fixed place of residence;
  • Set a maximum duration of pre-trial detention, and specify that any such detention should be employed as last resort only when necessary, proportionate and reasonable according to the circumstances of the case;
  • Ensure that detainees are brought before an independent and impartial judicial authority promptly following arrest, and no later than 48 hours in any event;
  • Include a provision recognizing the right to habeas corpus, and the right to compensation and other reparations for unlawful detention;
  • Provide for the right to legal counsel from the moment of arrest in all circumstances, and repeal the provision requiring a lawyer to seek authorization from the investigating judge to speak during the interrogation of the accused;
  • Require the disclosure of all evidence to the accused and allow them to make copies of the case file before a case is referred to court for prosecution; and
  • Grant individuals the right to appeal any conviction and sentence on alleged errors of law and fact and to reconsideration of a conviction upon discovery of a new fact.


Libya-UNHCR submission final-advocay-non legal submission-2019-ENG (submission in PDF)

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