Accountability is Pivotal to Prosecute Those Responsible for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Libya

OHCHR

Geneva- 29 June 2022- The Independent Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Libya uncovers further evidence of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and gross human rights violations in its comprehensive report, which comes amid growing tensions and a persistent political stalemate, contributing to insecurity and ongoing impunity.

The Mission, which comprises the Chair, Mohammad Aujjar, and fellow human rights experts Chaloka Beyani and Tracy Robinson, expressed its gratitude to the Libyan authorities which in 2020 called on the Human Rights Council to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate the human rights situation in Libya, a reflection of the Libyans desire to establish a state built on the rule of law and human rights.

During the reporting period, the mission gathered additional evidence from 103 interviews with victims and witnesses who gave accounts of human rights abuses in the country. The Mission also engaged with Libyan authorities with a view to reporting on efforts of Libya to ensure accountability for violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The report consolidates the findings of the Mission’s investigations of international humanitarian law violations. Some of the violations identified include direct attacks on civilians during the conduct of hostilities, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, torture, violations of fundamental freedoms, persecution and violations against journalists, human rights defenders, civil society, minorities, internally displaced persons and violations of the rights of women and children.

“In its three reports, the Mission has reported on serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, some of which amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. In this respect, the mission calls for the international community to support the relevant Libyan authorities in conducting prompt investigations, compliant with international standards, into alleged violations and to prosecute those responsible. The aim is to put an end to prevailing impunity in the face of clear and persistent patterns of serious human rights violations, in many cases perpetrated by militia groups,” says Mohammad Aujjar Chair of FFM Libya.

The Mission also gathered further evidence providing reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity, particularly enslavement, torture, and rape, continue to be committed against migrants in Libya.

Along the same lines, the FFM collected evidence relating to over 27 places of detention in the east and west of Libya holding thousands of inmates, including secret and extra-legal prisons. Over 90 interviews with current and former detainees in prisons detailed the crimes against humanity of murder, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearances and other inhumane acts since 2016.

“At the time of writing the report, localized tensions persist, and some key issues continue to contribute to insecurity and ongoing human rights violation in the country. They include the continued presence of Da’esh- affiliated groups, as well as mercenaries, private military companies, and foreign fighters. Libya’s limited capacity to conduct operations to clear landmines and other explosives is also a contributing factor to insecurity,” says Chaloka Beyani.

The mission also focused its investigative work on the widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population of Tarhuna, with its findings to be reflected in a detailed conference room paper. The Mission found that crimes against humanity through underlying acts of murder, extermination, imprisonment, torture, persecution on political grounds, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts by Al Kaniyat militia against the predominantly civilian population occurred in Tarhuna until 2020.

The FFM’s investigation into the atrocities in Tarhuna benefited from the use of UN technological capacities and the FFM has reasonable grounds to believe that it has uncovered new mass grave sites. It is critical to discover the whereabouts of the hundreds of victims who are still missing and uncover the truth.

“The FFM Libya’s further investigations on enforced disappearances, human trafficking and sexual exploitation, all indicate the need for urgent remedial action. Victims in Libya should have the possibility to realize their rights to truth, justice and reparation,” says Tracy Robinson.

The Mission reiterates that Libya’s political transition must take the form of a sustainable, inclusive process that tackles impunity, guarantees the independence of the judiciary, respects freedom of expression, assembly and thought, and ensures state oversight of the security sector.

“Now more than ever, the Libyan people need a strong commitment to helping them to bring lasting peace and justice to their country, and to establish a state based on rule of law and human rights.” Aujjar concluded.

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