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7 things to do in 7 months:
A human rights roadmap to elections

7: Create a safe space at polling stations and ensure the security of voters

Current Progress:

Failed
FAILED

Ensure the respect of the ‘Agreement for a Complete and Permanent Ceasefire in Libya’ and adopt a plan to mitigate the risk of escalating violence, identifying concrete and practical measures aiming to prevent further violations in the lead up to the elections;

  • On 14 August, tribal armed groups forced the closure of the Man-Made River, cutting water supply to three million people, to demand the release of Abdullah al-Senussi, a senior official in the former regime. UNSMIL condemned the politicisation of vital water infrastructure as it threatens water security for millions of people and represents a violation of international human rights law and of humanitarian law. UNSMIL also urged all parties to respect the Ceasefire Agreement and refrain from taking any action that may be perceived as an escalation and may undermine stability.
  • On 19 August, Libya’s Foreign Minister, Najla Mangoush met with her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, to discuss further the withdrawal of Russian mercenaries from Libyan territory. In the meeting, Minister Sergey Lavrov assured that Russia supports the withdrawal of foreign mercenaries from Libya.  
  • On 24 August, Libya’s Minister of Interior, Khaled Mazen, discussed with U.S. Ambassador and Special Envoy to Libya, Richard Norland, the plans and programmes carried out by the Ministry to secure the upcoming 24 December 2021 elections. Mazen notably confirmed that the Ministry had prepared nearly 35,000 members of the police to secure the elections as well as training courses to raise their efficiency in the field of electoral security.
Failed

Ensure that independent monitors have access to polling places and prevent attacks from militias and armed groups;

Failed

Ensure that those responsible for attacks and those attempting to obstruct the democratic electoral process, access to polls and freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association are held accountable;

  • On 2 August, armed men abducted senior government official Rida Faraj Fraitis, Chief of Staff for the Prime Minister of the GNU, and his colleague, in Tripoli. UNSMIL also expressed concerns about threats made to other individuals involved in Libya’s democratic transition, and about State institutions being targeted by armed groups. Libyan authorities must investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law including those responsible for attacks and those attempting to obstruct the democratic electoral process, access to polls and freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association are held accountable.
FAILED

Refrain from impeding the work of the judiciary and ensure its places of work are safe so that it can do its work.

Past progress:

What is the problem?

Post-2011 elections in Libya have not come without challenges, including security concerns. For example, the 2014 elections were marked by violence and a particularly low voter turnout of 18%, compromising the legitimacy of the election results. Security concerns forced 17 polling stations in central Derna to remain closed, while 10 centres in Kufra remained closed due to blockades preventing the delivery of election materials. Violence in Benghazi, which resulted in seven deaths and over 50 injured, caused one polling centre to be closed prematurely. The same day, Salwa Bugaigis, a prominent human rights lawyer and deputy chair of the National Dialogue Preparatory Committee, was killed in her home in Benghazi. Political assassinations have become common incidents. For example, in January 2018, Salah al-Qatrani, an education official, was killed shortly after he announced his candidacy for parliamentary elections.

Such security concerns often result in a low voter turnout, as evidenced by the 2014 elections, which then creates a gap between those elected and the population that does not feel represented by the outcome of the elections. A similar pattern in the upcoming elections would affect all recent efforts to achieve sustainable peace and stability. Preventing the escalation of violence and human rights violations and guaranteeing the safety of voters and candidates is key to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.

What you must do about it

Free and fair elections require an environment free of coercion, discrimination and intimidation of voters, candidates and political parties. You have a distinct role in building a conducive political and security environment for elections. As such, you must:

  • Ensure the respect of the ‘Agreement for a Complete and Permanent Ceasefire in Libya’ and adopt a plan to mitigate the risk of escalating violence, identifying concrete and practical measures aiming to prevent further violations in the lead up to the elections;
  • Ensure that independent monitors have access to polling places and prevent attacks from militias and armed groups;
  • Ensure that those responsible for attacks and those attempting to obstruct the democratic electoral process, access to polls and freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association are held accountable;
  • Refrain from impeding the work of the judiciary and ensure its places of work are safe so that it can do its work.