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Urgent action needed to remedy deteriorating human rights in Libya: UN fact-finding mission

March 27, 2023 at 4:30 pm

Irregular migrants wait to be deported after they were identified to enter the country illegally in Tripoli, Libya on November 24, 2022 [Hazem Turkia – Anadolu Agency]

In its final report released on Monday, the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya expressed “deep concern” over the country’s deteriorating human rights situation and that there is reason to believe that the state security forces and armed militia groups have committed “a wide array of war crimes and crimes against humanity”, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Presenting the report at a news conference in Geneva, Mohamed Auajjar, the Mission’s chair, said: “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,” Auajjar said.

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The report, which outlines a broad effort by authorities to repress dissent by civil society, documented numerous cases of arbitrary detention, murder, rape, enslavement, extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance. Nearly all survivors who were interviewed reportedly said they had held off on filing official complaints out of concern for retaliation, arrest, extortion and a lack of faith in the legal system.

There is convincing proof that systematic torture has been used against migrants, who have been targeted, in particular, according to the report. It added that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that sexual slavery, a crime against humanity, was committed against migrants”.

It reminded Libya’s government of its obligation to investigate of human rights violations and crimes in areas under its control in accordance with international standards.

“Attacks against inter alia human rights defenders, women rights activists, journalists and civil society associations have created an atmosphere of fear that has sent persons into self-censorship, hiding or exile at a time that it is necessary to build an atmosphere that is conducive to free and fair elections for Libyans to exercise their right to self-determination and choose a representative government to run the country,” the report said.

It found that the illegal movement of vulnerable migrants for trafficking, enslavement, forced labour, imprisonment, extortion and smuggling brought in sizable sums of money for individuals, organisations and state institutions, and encouraged further violations.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe migrants were enslaved in official detention centres, as well as ‘secret prisons’, and that rape as a crime against humanity was committed,” it added.

Regarding the women, it said they are “systematically discriminated against” in Libya and the conclusion that their situation has “markedly deteriorated” over the last three years.

The Mission also noted that it will share the report with the International Criminal Court to strengthen accountability.

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