Libya: support from international actors for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry

This support comes as the ICJ documents failure of criminal justice system on human rights accountability with its report Accountability for Serious Crimes under International Law in Libya: An Assessment of the Criminal Justice System.

At today’s launch of the publication, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the Delegation of the European Union to Libya (EUDEL) and the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) supported calls for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry for Libya.

The ICJ’s report examines the criminal justice framework in Libya and finds that investigations and prosecutions of crimes under international law have been limited to a handful of cases, and that future cases are unlikely meet international standards necessary to ensure fair and effective justice, in particular the rights to liberty and a fair trial and the prohibition on torture and ill-treatment.

The support by international actors echoes the ICJ’s call for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism to monitor, document and report on human rights violations in order to identify perpetrators, and gather and preserve evidence for future prosecutions, either national or international.

UNSMIL, the EU and a number of States expressed their support for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council.

The ICJ also advocated for such a mechanism in its statement to the Council on 25 September.

At the launch, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser Kate Vigneswaran said that “it’s time for States to stop working on the premise that the Libyan criminal justice system can effectively ensure accountability for crimes committed by State and non-State Actors and instead look at options for ensuring they don’t go unpunished.”

The ICJ’s report also calls on States and UN actors to ensure they adopt human rights-compliant terms in their engagement with Libya and to refrain from entering into or implementing agreements with Libyan authorities that could give rise to support for or complicity in violations of international law.

Kate Vigneswaran stated: “Human rights and accountability should underpin any agreements and engagement with Libyan actors entered into by States, rather than being sidelined in the interests of a political solution. Time has shown that the absence of human rights at the forefront of dialogue and engagement with stakeholders has failed to ensure the cessation of egregious human rights violations and abuses being perpetrated throughout the country.”

The launch, which was held in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands in Libya, was opened by the Netherlands’ Ambassador, H. E. Mr. Lars Tummers.

Kate Vigneswaran discussed the key findings and recommendations contained in the report. A panel comprised of ICJ Commissioner Marwan Tashani and representatives of EUDEL, EUBAM and UNSMIL responded to the report and provided insights into their work in Libya.

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