LFJL: Attack on Misrata Courthouse is an Attack on Justice and the Rule of Law

October 4, 2017

The attack on a courthouse in Misrata is a serious and direct attempt to disrupt and undermine the rule of law in Libya. LFJL urges the Libyan authorities to investigate and bring the perpetrators to account and end the ongoing impunity for human rights violations.

Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) strongly condemns the violent attack carried out on a court house in Misrata on 4 October 2017. The attack has been claimed by Daesh and reportedly aimed to disrupt a court session, targeting the head of the court. At least 18 people were injured or killed, including civilians. The courthouse attack comes in the wake of detailed public statements made by the Attorney General in which he outlined his office’s plans to hold accountable perpetrators of human rights violations, many affiliated to Daesh, and to bring an end to the impunity in Libya.

Targeting a part of the justice sector infrastructure is an indiscriminate attack which harmed civilians, including employees of the court, and is a clear violation of human rights and humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes. The Libyan state has a responsibility to protect its civilian population, including legal professionals and law enforcement agents, from harm caused by both state and non-state actors. Libya must respond appropriately to prevent further violence and hold the perpetrators accountable.

The justice system has been systematically weakened by targeted attacks on lawyers and judges that have rendered parts of the system unable to function and have prevented victims of human rights violations from receiving justice and redress domestically. The courthouse attack may be intended to undermine the statements made by the Attorney General and highlights the difficulty faced by the national justice system to achieve accountability and establish the rule of law. LFJL calls on the Libyan state to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the crimes committed in Misrata, and across the country, and urges the international community to support the Libyan state to achieve this.

LFJL Director Elham Saudi commented, “The rule of law in Libya has been eroded in recent years as various groups and individuals across the country and political spectrum have committed serious human rights violations with complete impunity. This most recent act, targeting the justice system directly, follows strong statements by the Attorney General on the need to end impunity in Libya. This attempt to prevent any move towards accountability must be met with a robust response by the Libyan authorities by investigating and holding accountable  those responsible. Only by bringing the perpetrators to justice, for this crime and others, can Libya begin the process of building the rule of law.”

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