Libya: Worrying findings of fact-finding mission in final report on human rights in the country

بعثة تقصي الحقائق في ليبيا

The United Nations (UN) Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya has expressed deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in the country and concluded that there are grounds to believe that the state, security forces and armed militias have committed a wide range of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Mission addressed many issues related to Alkarama’s concern, especially those concerning arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and others.

In its final report, the Mission indicated that State authorities and affiliated entities, including Deterrence Apparatus for Combating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DACOT), the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), the Internal Security Agency (ISA), and the Stability Support Apparatus (SSA), and their leadership - were repeatedly found to be involved in violations and abuses. Alkarama has documented many violations and written to relevant UN mechanisms, including the UN mission.

The Mission's investigations revealed numerous cases of arbitrary arrest, murder, rape, enslavement, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Almost all survivors interviewed refrained from filing formal complaints out of fear of reprisals, arrest and extortion, and a lack of confidence in the justice system. Detainees were regularly tortured and held in solitary confinement, denied contact with the outside world and denied water, food, toilets, sanitation, lighting, exercise, medical care, legal counsel and communication with family members.

While governmental figures stated that official number of detainees amounts to 18,523, evidence gathered by the Fact finding Mission suggests that the actual number of individuals arbitrarily detained is much higher.

“There is an urgent need for accountability to end this pervasive impunity. We call on Libyan authorities to develop a human rights plan of action and a comprehensive, victim-centred roadmap on transitional justice without delay, and hold all those responsible for human rights violations accountable.”

Alkarama already drew attention to the crimes committed by the forces of retired Major General Khalifa Haftar with the support of Arab governments.

From time to time, Libya witnesses assassinations of commanders on the ground in Haftar's forces, including those wanted for international crimes for their involvement in war crimes, including summary executions of civilians. Alkarama had previously expressed concern that the killings could be part of a ploy to liquidate prosecution witnesses against major criminals wanted for justice, and their regional and international supporters.

In this regard, Alkarama had addressed a number of UN bodies concerned with Libya, in particular the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on violations committed by all parties in Libya established by the Human Rights Council, asking them to investigate these killings and reveal their circumstances.

The UN Human Rights Council established the Fact-finding Mission in June 2020 to investigate human rights violations and abuses committed by all parties since the beginning of 2016, with the aim of preventing further deterioration of the human rights situation and ensuring accountability.