All Libyans urged to adhere to international human rights and international humanitarian law

August 16, 2011

Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) welcomes the statement by Mr Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the president of the National Transitional Council, calling for calm in the liberated areas of Libya and highlighting the need to halt reprisals in these areas and to involve all Libyans, on both sides of the conflict, in the reconciliation process and further calling for the law to be the source of justice.

LFJL appeals to both sides in the Libyan conflict to comply with international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  In particular, it appeals to fighters in the liberated areas in the east of Libya and in Misratah, Brega, Tawergha, Gharyan, Sorman, Zawiya and the Western Mountains to restrain from seeking immediate justice and we remind them that the goal of building a free, democratic Libya governed by the rule of law cannot be achieved through violent reprisals.  Both sides are cognizant of the great suffering endured by the Libyan people during this conflict and should therefore endeavour to minimize further loss of life and human suffering and pursue justice through legal means.

We strongly condemn any and all breaches of international humanitarian law committed in the conflict in Libya.  We note with grave concern the recent reports of attacks on the historic ruins of Sabratha.  We remind both parties that Libya is a party to all four 1949 Geneva Conventions and to both 1977 Additional Protocols. As such, we remind both parties that, in the conduct of hostilities, they are bound by Common Article 3 to the four Geneva Conventions and to the provisions of Additional Protocol II Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts.

We strongly condemn any and all human rights violations committed on Libyan territory and urge parties to refrain from practising summary justice, torture and arbitrary detention regardless of the circumstances.  We remind both parties that such actions are contrary to Libyan civil and criminal law and that Libya is a party to the majority of human rights conventions, including the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and is bound by them.

We applaud the National Transitional Council of Libya for their efforts to provide fighters with manuals on the treatment of detainees and urge fighters in liberated areas to continue to abide by those manuals.  We also urge the fighters in those areas to continue to invite international humanitarian organizations to assist in maintaining order and safeguarding detainees and other vulnerable persons.   We hope that accountability and reconciliation will be the foundations of the new Libya.   The Libyan people are building these foundations through great personal sacrifice and the only way to honour such sacrifice is to abide by the principles of accountability, justice and the rule of law.

Elham Saudi, Director of LFJL, said: "This is our chance to build the Libya we have dreamed of, our chance to live in the Libya that so many have died for, where justice and the rule of law are supreme.  We seek reconciliation through a fair legal process.  We, as Libyans, owe this to all the victims, to those who have given their lives since 15 February and to every person who suffered human rights violations over the past 42 years.  Prioritising the rule of law over revenge will be a big step towards restoring our people's faith in justice and help us all move on from the decades of repression."

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