Lawyers for Justice in Libya’s Newsletter

Issue 9


Director’s Welcome

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June saw the completion of several significant activities aimed at addressing torture in Libya. This special edition of our newsletter is dedicated to sharing these developments in our work seeking redress for survivors of human rights violations including torture; providing psychological and physical rehabilitation work for survivors; and advocating to strengthen domestic and international policy and law targeting torture.

Find out more about these activities, and others, below.

We cannot continue to do this work without support.  If you would like to support our work to prevent, seek redress and facilitate rehabilitation for the most serious human rights violations currently experienced by so many in Libya, please make a donation.

As always, we welcome your feedback and comments, so please get in touch and let us know if you would like more information on any of our work, or have any other questions:, find us on Twitter @libyanjustice and on our Facebook page.

Strategic Litigation

Case Submission: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
As part of our ongoing strategic litigation work seeking accountability for human rights violations, LFJL and REDRESS submitted a complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) prior to its 20th Extraordinary Session in Banjul, the Gambia. The complaint concerns four Libyan nationals arbitrarily detained, ill-treated, tortured and denied medical treatment in detention. One of the victims remains missing since the arrest in 2012. The submission notes several violations of the survivors’ rights under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter).
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Alongside its own litigation, LFJL continues to work with local human rights partners to build capacity, provide advice and direct assistance to support them to build their own submissions to regional and international human rights mechanisms on behalf of survivors. Taking a holistic approach, our strategic litigation programme also facilitates psychological and physical rehabilitation of torture survivors.


Letter to the Special Rapporteur on torture

LFJL submitted an advocacy letter to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr Juan Ernesto Mendez. The Special Rapporteur for torture is one of 41 independent thematic experts tasked with researching and reporting annually to the UN Human Rights Council on specific human rights concerns, such as torture, and making recommendations for the development of human rights standards.


The advocacy letter encouraged the Special Rapporteur to engage with the Libyan state authorities and civil society by acting on the standing invitation that the Libyan state extended to all thematic special procedures in 2012 to visit Libya. The letter also focused on providing information on the context of torture and ill-treatment in the country, referring to cases of torture and ill-treatment during instances of arrest, interrogation and detention documented by our network of lawyers and activists since 2011.

Membership of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court

LFJL joined the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) in June. CICC works in partnership with its member organisations around the world to campaign for a fair, effective and independent International Criminal Court (ICC) and improved access to justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. LFJL intends to contribute actively to the work of the CICC by joining several of its issue-specific teams.

LFJL engages with international mechanisms, such as the ICC and others, with the aim of strengthening the international policies of such organisations in relation to torture and torture survivors. This includes increasing the access of survivors to such institutions and increasing the support provided by such organisations to survivors.

Comments on Libya’s Draft Constitution: Updated Comments on the Prohibition of Torture and Ill-Treatment

Following our in depth analysis of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly’s December 2014 draft constitution, we, together with REDRESS, have updated our comments to highlight our concerns regarding the April 2016 constitutional draft’s effectiveness in fully enshrining the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.

In an open letter to the Constitutional Drafting Assembly, LFJL and REDRESS expressed their concern that the April 2016 constitutional draft appears to provide a low standard of protection against torture and ill-treatment in Libya as it does not include an express prohibition of such acts, but merely commits the state to “preventing all types of violence, torture and enforced disappearance”. Other urgent concerns include the removal of the prohibition of evidence extracted by torture, essential when torture is so often committed in order to obtain evidence or a confession, and the weak accountability framework established that may allow the continued impunity of perpetrators of torture.

Through domestic advocacy such as this, LFJL seeks to enhance the Libyan state’s protection, assistance and response to torture and other related international crimes through institutional reforms with the overall goal of preventing torture.


"Reporting on Torture: A handbook for journalists covering torture"
As part of our work to prevent and end impunity for acts of torture around the world, we, together with our global partners REDRESS, Advocacy Forum - Nepal, La Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (Peru), and the Independent Medical-Legal Unit (Kenya) collaborated to publish a detailed handbook for journalists reporting on torture.  Published in four languages, the handbook seeks to encourage increased reporting on this grave international crime and to offer ongoing support to journalists in the vital role they play in raising awareness of torture.  

Through accurate reporting, journalists can increase awareness of the universal prohibition of torture and of the challenges that may be preventing survivors from obtaining justice. Journalists can also provide important insights into the impact of torture on the survivors and their communities. The “Reporting on Torture” handbook explains states’ obligations to prevent, prohibit and respond to torture allegations. It also details the impact of torture on survivors and provides guidance to journalists on minimising the risks they may face when reporting on torture and on how safely and appropriately to interview and interact with torture survivors.

Awareness raising on torture in Libya is essential to address the culture of accepting torture and the impunity with which it is carried out. Over 60% of participants in LFJL’s Rehlat Watan constitutional tour stated that torture can be justified in some circumstances, demonstrating the prevalent misconception that acts of torture can be justified in certain situations depending on the identity of the victim or if seen to serve a “common good”.


Forum: Law and Practice of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

On 13 and 14 June, LFJL participated in a forum event organised by the Litigants' Group, a group of around 65 lawyers and representatives of non-governmental organisations litigating before the African Commission.

Under article 55 of the African Charter, the African Commission is empowered to receive and consider communications from individuals or organisations alleging that a State party to the African Charter has violated one or more of the rights guaranteed. This procedure for receiving communications falls within the African Commission’s mandate to protect the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the African Charter.  The forum discussed the practical, institutional and legal challenges that the African Commission is facing, including in relation to its protective mandate, and will present its findings and recommendations to the African Commission.

In particular, the forum considered the confidentiality of communications and pleadings; issues of implementation; referrals of cases from the African Commission to the African Court; and the African Commission’s variable application of survivors’ right to reparation (restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition). LFJL drew on its own experiences to chair a session on legal challenges and the ways to address them, with a focus on the application of the admissibility criteria found in article 56 of the African Charter which must be met before the African Commission may consider a case.

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