Lawyers for Justice in Libya’s Newsletter

Issue 10

 

Director’s Welcome

In August LFJL launched its #EveryHumansRights campaign reflecting on the situation in Libya and its own journey since 2011 working towards human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Libya.

The campaign called urgently for increased support for civil society organisations in Libya, including LFJL, following a shift in the donor community. Civil society organisations are assuming ever greater responsibility for guiding transitional efforts, documenting human rights violations and providing aid to those in need, yet are experiencing increasing disengagement from institutional funders. As a result, spaces for civil society are closing with many organisations having to reduce their activities which in turn risks jeopardising Libya’s transition to a country where justice, accountability and human rights are realisable and enjoyed by all.

LFJL launched #EveryHumansRights with three short videos in which its London team discusses “What are human rights?”, “What is LFJL?” and “Why support LFJL?”. The videos received an overwhelmingly positive and supportive reaction from followers across the world, with over 20,000 views. We were truly humbled by the pledges of support and generous donations that we received which will help to ensure our work to seek justice and build a culture of respect for human rights in Libya is able to continue. Over the next year, we will seek to:

●    End the impunity with which human rights violations are carried out and bring perpetrators to justice using creative legal solutions, such as the criminal law of other countries to hold those who commit human rights violations to account;
●    Advance progressive legal developments through strategic litigation, so that laws are interpreted and enforced in a way which protects and promotes human rights;
●    Share our experience and expertise with lawyers, activists and other civil society organisations in order to support their own litigation, advocacy and awareness raising efforts;
●    Engage and empower marginalised groups through dialogue, debate and capacity building aimed at building social trust and ensuring democratic inclusiveness; and
●    Promote a culture of human rights, democracy and accountability by ensuring that the Libyan public are given the opportunity to participate in democratic processes.

Please read on to find out about our most recent work which includes responding to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report examining the UK’s intervention in Libya; presenting our Human Rights Photography Exhibition with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Berlin; and attending a global conference to discuss our experiences of fighting torture in Libya.

For those in London, LFJL and REDRESS are convening a launch event for the recently published 'Reporting on Torture Handbook for Journalists'. The event will be held on 8 December 2016, 1800-2000hrs, at Matrix Chambers.  It will feature a panel discussion which will address the important role the media can play in reporting and investigating torture. Several prominent speakers will be attending, including leading journalists, documentary makers, legal practitioners and human rights experts from REDRESS and LFJL. RSVP to eva@redress.org, we look forward to welcoming you.

We cannot do this work without your continued support. Please consider making a  donation to enable us to continue to give a voice to the voiceless and fight for the rights of every Libyan. Please read on to discover more about our recent activities and also send us your feedback, comments and questions to: info@libyanjustice.org, Twitter @libyanjustice and on our Facebook page.

Thank you for your support.

Response to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report – “Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options”


Case Submission: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
 
The UK’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (the Committee) published its report into the British government’s involvement in the Libyan intervention and transition on 14 September.
 
The report examines the rationale stated by the UK’s government for its intervention; its role; whether the intervention exceeded its mandate; whether alternative political options were adequately explored; and the UK’s actions during the transition, and makes recommendations concerning security and policy interests.

 

 

LFJL reviewed  the Committee’s report and found that it failed to consider human rights within its assessment and recommendations. This is highly concerning as it risks devaluing the role that human rights have in guiding policy decisions, especially those which concern interventions and support for transitional nations. In particular, the Committee’s report manipulated the findings of organisations working to fact check mass human rights violations during the uprising in order to further its own conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to support the intervention. The report also attempts to paint Saif Gaddafi as a suitable alternative leader for Libya despite his outstanding arrest warrants for crimes against humanity from the International Criminal Court. Also highly concerning is the report’s dangerous suggestion that transitional support to Libya would have been more effective if delivered by states working outside of the United Nations framework and that such an approach should be considered for future post conflict scenarios. Further, rather than considering policies to strengthen that state’s capacity to rebuild institutions and protect human rights, the report prioritises the determination of how theoretically to provide military support and does not rule out reliance on unaccountable non-state actors when doing so.
 
In light of the report we recommend that the UK Government reconsiders how it provides support and assists the activities of civil society and the international community, including the International Criminal Court, to place greater emphasis on transitional justice, reconciliation, human rights and humanitarian assistance. We also urge it to prioritise the protection of migrant and refugee human rights, which it failed to consider at any stage of the report.
 
LFJL outlined its concerns and recommendations in a detailed press statement, and provided comments on the topic to a number of international media outlets.
  

Events


Exhibition: ‘Libya: Human Rights under pressure’

On 15 September Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and LFJL opened a joint photography exhibition in Berlin aiming to give a voice and space to Libyans to tell their own stories within the discussion of the ongoing human rights crisis. The exhibition also sought to highlight the work of photographers as witnesses and advocates of social change, despite immense personal risk, in order to shed light on everyday struggles that are often conspicuously absent from policy discussion.
 
The images depicted a wide range of emotive topics including the condition in refugee camps for the displaced Tawergha community, the destruction of religious and historical sites, the assimilation of violence into the everyday lives of children, and the hard won gains of women speaking out during protests to guarantee their political participation.
 
The absence of rule of law in Libya has meant that the freedom of expression is under substantial threat, with Libya ranked 164 of 180 on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index for 2016. LFJL and participating photographers Aimen Ahur and Mohammed Ben Khalifa discussed the hostility faced by freedom of expression practitioners in their work, particularly when documenting violations. The exhibition also screened the Justice for Salwa film reflecting on the life and work of assassinated human rights lawyer and advocate Salwa Bughaighis. 

 
 

Conference: Fighting Torture at home: the implementation of States’ international obligations at the domestic level – lessons learnt and way forward

On 8-9 September, LFJL participated in an international conference hosted by its anti-torture project partner REDRESS. 27 lawyers and representatives of non-governmental organisations from across the globe came together at the conference to share their experiences of fighting torture and to discuss future collaboration on advocacy and capacity building. 
 
LFJL facilitated a session on ‘Barriers in domestic legislation and institutional framework’ in which representatives from Uganda, Pakistan, Israel and Pakistan touched upon issues affecting the availability and efficacy of justice in cases of torture. Participants highlighted the need for a functioning rule of law system and drew attention to the tension that occurs when states prioritise security at the expense of human rights. The panel emphasised that universal jurisdiction, which allows the criminal law of other countries to be used to hold those who commit certain human rights violations including torture to account, is an alternative where domestic justice is otherwise unavailable. Other panel discussions sought to share experiences of documentation, capacity building and seeking reparations and to strengthen cross-country support in respect of sharing expertise, transnational work and solidarity.
 
    

Other Activities


Libya Al- Mostakbal published a profile piece on LFJL director Elham Saudi, highlighting her experiences as a human rights lawyer and activist, and discussing LFJL’s work.
 
The interview touched on the formation of LFJL and the role it sought to play during and following the 2011 uprising, leading to discussion of LFJL’s Destoori, Sawti and Mushahid work and the necessity of engaging Libyans to support their country’s transition to democracy and peace. She also highlighted her concerns about support and space for civil society in Libya which motivated LFJL’s #everyhumansright campaign.

We need and appreciate your support. Please consider contributing to our work by making a donation here.
 

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.