Yesterday, Libya marked the first anniversary of its declaration of liberation. Over the past year, many promises for Libya’s transition to democracy, respect for the rule of law and protection and promotion of human rights have been made by Libya’s interim authorities. As the country celebrates its liberation after four decades of Gaddafi rule, Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) calls on the Libyan government to deliver on these promises.
“We have heard a lot of rhetoric about democratic promotion, respect for human rights and the pursuit of justice from Libya officials,” LFJL Director Elham Saudi said. “It is time this rhetoric is turned into reality.”
While some developments, most notably the peaceful elections of the General National Congress, have inspired hope for the country’s future, Libya faces numerous ongoing challenges. The use of disproportionate violence in Bani Walid, the continued discrimination and violence waged against the people of Tawergha, the indiscriminate attacks on religious shrines, the continued arbitrary detention of hundreds of people without recourse to justice and the reported torture of detainees mark a growing stain on Libya’s transition.
LFJL also notes that ongoing instability and disturbing outbursts of violence have too often been met with a lack of political interest in bringing perpetrators to justice. Notably, Law 38 of 2011, which grants a blanket amnesty to pro-Revolution fighters, remains in place and no serious attempt has been made to repeal it. In other instances, such as the continued reports of the torture of detainees and the attacks on religious shrines, lofty statements by the government have been met with complacency and inaction on the issue of justice.
“Compounding Libya’s turbulent transition has been the promotion of a culture of impunity on the part of the Libyan government,” Saudi declared. “The lack of interest in bringing perpetrators of human rights violations to account has made periodic statements about pursuing justice ring hollow. Without concerted efforts to achieve accountability, build respect for the rule of law and promote human rights, the government risks building Libya’s transition on a false foundation.”