7 August 2014
To the Members of the House of Representatives
Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) wishes to congratulate members of the House of Representatives on their assembly. The formation of the House of Representatives comes at a pivotal point in Libya’s democratic transition and is a vital opportunity to address political and social unrest in the country. LFJL reminds you of your compulsory responsibilities towards your constituents, your limited powers as a legislature, and the specific terms of your democratic mandate. We call on you to take urgent action against the ongoing human rights and humanitarian atrocities occurring in Libya.
Recent clashes between rival armed groups in Libya, have resulted in a disproportionate number of civilian deaths and casualties. In the month of July 2014 alone, the Ministry of Health reported that 981 injuries and 214 deaths occurred as a result of the fighting. Collateral damage and disputes between regions have frequently prevented whole communities from accessing fundamental resources such as water, electricity, fuel and healthcare. Targeted violent attacks and assassinations against those who are vocal of their opinions remain widespread, with civil society members, legal professionals, and journalists being particularly vulnerable. State and non-state controlled detention facilities hold thousands of detainees who currently face little prospect of a fair trial or due process. Torture remains prevalent in such facilities; a recent report stated that out of 138 detainees interviewed, 100 reported being subject to torture and other abuses.
Mounting evidence suggests that many of the groups responsible for such grave human rights violations are largely supported and funded through criminal activities. Human, drugs and arms smuggling, has allowed many to profit illegally and immorally from the ongoing crisis. These criminal activities have prolonged the disruption of peace in the country.
Despite the prevalence of these human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, and criminal activities, the individuals and groups responsible for these offences have so far enjoyed total impunity. In turn, the Libyan state’s ongoing tolerance of such grave acts may constitute a crime against humanity. This is the case if certain grave human rights violations, such as murder, torture, or unlawful imprisonment form a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population and the authorities condone or tolerate such offences. Notably this remains the case even if the perpetrators of such acts are not part of the state or do not identify with government policy. The international community considers crimes against humanity to be a serious attack on human dignity and may take action, including arrest warrants and sanctions, against those responsible.
The commencement of the House of Representatives’ activities is a key opportunity to correct the country’s course and to take action against injustice. It is therefore vital that the House of Representatives takes immediate action against individuals and groups responsible for human rights violations. LFJL recognises that current circumstances in Libya may inhibit the effectiveness of state action in Libya; however, this does not justify inaction or abandonment of state responsibilities and international obligations by the House of Representatives. Failure to adhere to these responsibilities and obligations may result in legal proceedings being brought against the Libyan state, both domestically and internationally.
For all these reasons, LFJL calls for the following actions to be taken by the House of Representatives:
Lawyers for Justice in Libya