Lawyers for Justice in Libya’s Newsletter

Issue 8

Director’s Welcome

In this period, LFJL has continued to carry out its work as part of its core programmes: launching its media monitoring platform, Mushahid, and public service announcements aiming to promote media ethics and professionalism; engaging with the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court to increase accountability for human rights violations; training state actors on the international human rights framework; and monitoring and responding to the ongoing constitutional drafting process. Read on to find out more about these activities, and, as ever, please send us your comments and feedback to info@libyanjustice.org or via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Sawti


This month, LFJL launched its media monitoring platform, Mushahid (‘the Observer’), and public service announcements (PSA) discussing media ethics and media professionalisation in Libya.
 
Mushahid is an independent online resource dedicated to providing information and support for those interested in advancing media ethics in Libya. Hate speech and incitement to violence are prevalent in Libyan news reporting, and have fuelled increasing calls for greater state regulation.

The legal framework governing freedom of expression and media freedom in Libya allows for the arbitrary restriction of media activities and there is a danger that these, and possible new measures, will be used to silence political dissent. Self-regulation and adherence to a media-led code of ethics, and not a state regulated media, will safeguard freedom of expression whilst also advancing a media sector that acts with greater integrity and in compliance with human rights standards.
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Mushahid aims to be a platform which all Libyans can use to voice their own concerns on, and hopes for, an ethical media and free expression. It holds a digital library of resources on media professionalism, self-regulation, the current legal framework and international best practices, and asks stakeholders to participate by reporting incidents of possible media misconduct through its anonymous form.

In support of Mushahid, LFJL launched two public service announcements. The first discusses the need for enhanced ethical media practices. The second examines media freedom and the concerns of hate speech and incitement to violence among practitioners, and advocates for increased media professionalism.

Destoori


Summary of concerns: Constitutional protections for groups at risk of marginalisation

The Coalition of Libyan Human Rights Organisations (the Coalition), of which LFJL is the founding member, published a summary of concerns related to the constitutional draft published by the Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) on 3 February 2016.

The Coalition raised its concern that the draft provided weak protections for certain vulnerable groups such as women and ethnic, religious and political minorities, and called on the CDA to amend the draft to provide stronger protections and ensure that the final document is inclusive. The Coalition urged the CDA to resist pressure to adopt a “quick fix” document at the expense of its legitimacy and that the constitution should not be seen as a law which can be adopted now and amended later for the sake of political expedience, as this may risk inadequate protections being enshrined for generations to come.
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La Mubarir


Workshop: “Reporting to Human Rights Treaty Bodies: From Documentation to the Implementation of Recommendations”
 
On 27 and 28 April, LFJL held its fourth La Mubarir capacity building workshop. We provided training for eleven civil servants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Libya’s obligations under international human rights law; engaging with international human rights treaty bodies and responding to their recommendations; and cooperating with civil society.
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The aim of the workshop was to encourage state actors to engage with, and implement the recommendations of, international human rights treaty bodies, with a particular focus on Libya’s obligations related to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. Expert facilitators Carla Ferstman, Director of REDRESS, and Alaa Kaoud of the human rights component of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), led introductory sessions on international human rights law, international human rights mechanisms and report writing and preparation. As well as looking at the specific requirements for reporting to the Committee against Torture, Ferstman and Kaoud provided practical research tools and discussed issues related to report submission, implementation and monitoring. During working group sessions, participants examined Jordan's third periodic report to the Committee against Torture (2014) and the Committee against Torture's concluding observations on Libya. The facilitators also discussed the role of civil society, increasing participants’ understanding of the work of civil society organisations and raising awareness of the need for cooperation.
 
Comments on the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court’s Draft Policy Paper on Case Selection and Prioritisation

On 9 March, LFJL attended a consultation meeting for civil society organised by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) in collaboration with REDRESS to discuss the OTP’s Draft Policy Paper on Case Selection and Prioritisation (the Draft Policy).

In the Draft Policy, the OTP seeks to clarify the bases on which cases are selected and prioritised for investigation and prosecution. As a follow-up to the one-day meeting, LFJL, REDRESS and the Coalition Ivoirienne pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CI-CPI) jointly submitted written comments on the Draft Policy to the OTP, which will hopefully lead to more transparency and build trust between the ICC and its key stakeholders. In particular, LFJL, CI-CPI and REDRESS expressed their concern that the Draft Policy does not explain what steps the OTP will take to ensure that current non-priority cases have the potential to become priority cases. In the context of the Libya situation, the Draft Policy namely appears to legitimise the status quo with the OTP repeatedly referring to limited resources and security concerns to explain why no new cases have been opened within the last five years.
 

Case submission: United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

As part of its ongoing strategic litigation work seeking accountability for human rights violations, LFJL and REDRESS submitted a case to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the long-term arbitrary detention of a Libyan national. The submission notes several violations of the survivor’s rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

LFJL also continues to support other Libyan lawyers and activists to build cases for submission to regional and international human rights mechanisms. These mechanisms are currently the only route to justice available to Libyans due to the inability of the domestic judiciary in allowing to access justice.
 
 


Other Activities


Panel event: “Can Libya Step Back from the Abyss?”

On 16 March, LFJL Director Elham Saudi chaired a panel event at London’s Chatham House, where she is Associate Fellow for the International Law and Middle East and North Africa Programmes. The event, entitled “Can Libya Step Back from the Abyss?”, examined the role of the political and security situations, as well as that of the international community, in Libya’s progress towards stability. Participating panellists were journalist Mary Fitzgerald, Claudia Gazzini of the International Crisis Group and Wolfram Lacher of Siftung Wissenschaft un Politik.
 

Panel event: “Ending the Cycle of Violence in Libya: The Role of Accountability and the Human Rights Council”

On 7 March, LFJL participated in a panel event at the UN Human Rights Council hosted by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) to discuss ongoing human rights violations in Libya and what the Human Rights Council can do to support accountability for past and ongoing violations. During the event, LFJL discussed the legal impediments faced by human rights defenders such as the recent attempts to restrict civil society; the trend among the international community to divert attention away from Libyan human rights projects as a result of the instability; and LFJL’s work documenting human rights violations against vulnerable groups such as minorities and freedom of expression practitioners.
 
Resource: Strengthening Skills and Improving Safety for Independent Journalism in Libya

LFJL is delighted to be featured in Rory Peck Trust's resource for Libyan freelance journalists "Freelancing in Libya". The comprehensive resource provides information, guidance and assistance for Libyan freelancers on topics such as safety and ethics; growing professional and protection networks; and the freelance business. LFJL is featured as an NGO capable of assisting freelancers in crisis in the section entitled “Local and international support networks”. This section discusses LFJL’s work to protect the right to freedom of expression and media practitioners, including by providing hostile environment training, access to LFJL’s new online resource Mushahid, LFJL’s Strategic Litigation Programme’s capacity to bring cases involving violations of the right to freedom of expression to the attention of international mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Committee.  
Joint statement on Rwanda of 40 regional and international civil society organisations

In response to the Rwandan government’s withdrawal of its Article 34(6) declaration of the Protocol on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Protocol), regional and international civil society organisations published a joint statement urging the Rwandan government to retract its withdrawal. Rwanda had previously been one of the few states that accepted the competence of the African Court to receive cases directly from individuals and non-governmental organisations. The joint statement also called on all African states to work to strengthen the African Court’s role in promoting and protecting human and peoples’ rights throughout the continent by ratifying the Protocol and depositing declarations allowing individual and NGOs direct access to the African Court.

 

LFJL wants to hear from you! Email info@libyanjustice.org with your thoughts, questions or queries and reach us through our Facebook page www.facebook.com/libyanjustice, or on Twitter @libyanjustice.