Unless there is justice and accountability in Libya, there can be no transition to a sustainable peace. This understanding lies at the heart of LFJL’s Accountability and Transitional Justice programme (A&TJ programme). The programme undertakes innovative, flexible activities that are locally driven. Our team in Tripoli acts as a hub for a network of Libyan civil society actors. We undertake regular consultations with these actors to ensure that efforts to achieve accountability and a transition to peace are shaped by Libya’s specific cultural, political and societal needs - including the needs of marginalised communities. Local agency is paramount to preventing recurrence of human rights violations and supporting peaceful, sustainable change in Libya.
A key element of the A&TJ programme is the documentation and archiving of human rights violations in Libya. We work with Libyan civil society to document a broad range of human rights violations committed in all geographic areas of Libya, including human rights abuses that took place during the 2011 uprising and ongoing human rights violations against migrants and arising from human trafficking. We train Libyan civil society on human rights documentation and archiving. LFJL also coordinates a digital archive that stores evidence of human rights violations received from Libyan civil society and other available sources, including public sources (such as the internet and social media). This information is then catalogued and analysed according to human rights standards.
Using the information we have collected, we devise strategies to pursue accountability. We are keen to ensure access to justice for all, including women and girls who have suffered gender-specific violence. Mindful of the individual needs of every victim of human rights violations, we approach our work holistically. In combination with legal intervention, we facilitate psychological and medical rehabilitation to contribute to victims’ physical and mental wellbeing.
We utilise various methods to achieve accountability. They include filing cases in domestic jurisdictions (both Libya and further afield), before African human rights bodies such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and submitting evidence to international human rights mechanisms. We have filed amicus briefs before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and trained Libyan lawyers to assist victims to engage with the ICC. LFJL is also developing strategies to hold corporations to account for their role in human rights violations in Libya.
We regard legal intervention as a starting point for change and not simply an end in itself. Using judicial mechanisms to ensure accountability leads to the establishment of useful precedent and jurisprudence. Importantly, it creates a focus around which public and political pressure can be mobilised for effective change in the fight against impunity.
In addition to our legal interventions, we strive to create space for discussions not currently being had regarding transitional justice issues such as those related to the right to reconciliation of communities perceived as being “against” the uprising who are currently severely marginalised. We also advocate for implementation of laws and policies that support a transitional justice mechanism that is objective, nonpolitical and inclusive of all groups and communities in Libya. We provide support and capacity-building opportunities to legal practitioners so that they can benefit from international experiences of transitional justice. Our work with the digital archive also includes consideration of how it can be used long-term in exhibitions, memorials, history books and museums.
In 2017, we launched the Human Rights Archive (the Archive), a digital archive of evidence related to human rights violations in Libya. We established the Archive with the founding group of Libyan NGOs, ‘The Network for Monitoring and Archiving for Justice’ (SHIRA), which we brought together in 2016. The project seeks to protect documentation and evidence of human rights violations in Libya, which is at risk of being lost, stolen or damaged. LFJL created a centralised space where organisations can share information relating to human rights abuses in order to create a national archive of human rights violations to support future transitional justice processes.
In 2018, we hosted the first International Criminal Moot Court Competition at the University of Libya, taking the law out of the books and into the courtroom. Through in-depth training, the project provides students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge of international humanitarian law and international criminal law and to enhance their legal drafting and presentation skills. The competition culminates in a final event where the best two teams for the Defence and for the Office of the Prosecutor present their arguments before an expert panel of judges. The final event is open to the public, creating new spaces for discussion on human rights, justice and law.
Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers travelling through Libya remain at high risk of severe human rights violations, including torture and ill treatment, sexual exploitation and slavery. #RoutesToJustice secures access to justice for these people using domestic courts, including through the principle of universal jurisdiction, regional human rights courts and mechanisms and international human rights mechanisms and tribunals. In combination with legal intervention, we facilitate initial medical and psychological rehabilitation for victims. LFJL hopes that by creating a climate of accountability, traffickers and armed actors will be deterred from continuing to commit violations. Finally, strategic legal interventions provide a basis for political pressure to change migration policy, both domestically and regionally.
Learn more about #RoutesToJustice here.
Through our La Mubarir (“no justification” in Arabic) project, we aim to prevent future instances of torture in Libya, and to provide redress and rehabilitation to victims. Torture in Libya is endemic. Public opinion on its use is divided, with many holding the opinion that torture is justifiable in some circumstances, for example depending on the identity or affiliation of the victim. Due to the breakdown of the justice system, torture victims are unable to access legal redress at a national level. The Accountability Programme addresses these challenges through a range of activities. These include documenting cases of torture, working to obtain justice using the principle of universal jurisdiction and human rights mechanisms such as the United Nations Human Rights Committee and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and strengthening the network of professionals working in the fight against torture in Libya.
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We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr. Rebecca Wright as our new Head of Accountability and Transitional Justice. Rebecca is a human rights lawyer and brings a wealth of experience in strategic litigation, capacity building and human rights documentation across the Middle East and Central Asia. She has practiced as a criminal barrister in the UK and as a corporate lawyer in Doha, London and New York. On confirming her appointment to LFJL, Rebecca said: “I am delighted to be joining LFJL at this exciting time of growth. I look forward to developing projects which contribute to the process of bringing accountability and justice to Libya.”
Rebecca worked at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and established the North African Litigation Initiative. She initiated the first case before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights which was against the Libyan state for violations in the 2011 uprising. Rebecca holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford and a JD from Berkeley and Harvard. She is a member of the New York Bar and Inner Temple.
The Research and Capacity Building Programme undertakes activities that aim to identify new opportunities for participation, to share our understanding of human rights issues and to address the knowledge deficit around Libya.
The Advocacy and Outreach Programme ensures that core human rights concerns of grassroots stakeholders are a key consideration during the decision making processes of domestic, regional and international institutions and actors.