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.
LFJL is currently working alongside other NGOs to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances in Africa and to bring justice to victims of enforced disappearances.
In Libya, we aim to empower victims to speak about their own experiences and to highlight this issue with the national authorities and at the regional level with the African Union. We also seek to encourage the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to adopt comprehensive guidelines on enforced disappearances in Africa in order to prevent and eradicate the practice of enforced disappearances in the continent.
Read more on the impact and legal implications of Enforced Disappearances.
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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This week, LFJL's Advocacy & Outreach team is in Geneva to work around the UN Human Rights Council. This mission is part of our advocacy efforts to call for a serious commitment and concrete actions to achieve justice and accountability in Libya. Last week, LFJL's Head of Advocacy & Outreach Marwa Mohamed attended the UN Security Council session and briefed it on the current situation in Libya, specifically focusing on three main issues: the impact of the conflict on women, the use of enforced disappearances and torture, and the discriminate attacks on civilians and civilian objects. Read Marwa's intervention.
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.