Post-Gaddafi Era Must be Built on Justice and the Rule of Law

October 24, 2011

The death of Gaddafi marks the end of an era of human rights violations, oppression and injustice in Libya and an opportunity to build a new state based on the foundations of justice, rights and the rule of law.

Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) welcomes the initiation of investigations into the death of Muammar Gaddafi and Mutassim Gaddafi by the National Transitional Council (NTC).  This must be an impartial and transparent process and will be an important first step in how Libya and the interim government elect to deal with the past.

“Libyans can begin to put an end to the era of totalitarian rule and can look forward to a period of democracy, tolerance and inclusivity, based on the rule of law and justice. Key to this is the need for accountability, not only for the abuses of the last 8 months, where over 10,000 people have lost their lives, but also for the preceding four decades.  We must all work towards justice, which must include legal as well economic and social justice,” said LFJL’s Director, Elham Saudi.   

Over the course of its 42 years, the Gaddafi regime built a horrendous human rights record, including enforced disappearances, the use of torture, arrests based on political affiliations and the complete suppression of the freedom of expression and genuine political participation.   The next Libyan government must conduct investigations into the violations of the past to seek the truth of these violations and provide a platform for reconciliation of the past and reconstruction of a new Libya. 

In looking forward, the new authorities must prioritise the security of the state, through a systematic process of disarmament, and the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The 2011 Uprising was against tyranny and oppression as embodied in the Gaddafi and the Libyan people have sacrificed so much to regain their most fundamental freedoms.   Therefore, LFJL calls on the new authorities to take the opportunity to affirm the position of Libya as a leader in the region and the international community by taking the lead in signing and ratifying those international conventions which the Gaddafi regime did not ratify, including the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and ensuring that those which have been ratified, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Economic Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, are reflected in Libyan law and practice.  In doing so, a thorough review of the criminal code and procedures as well as the laws suppressing the freedom of expression, association and political parties will need to be reviewed to ensure that they reflect the international standards set out in these conventions.  “The new constitution,” stated Saudi, “marks an opportunity to enshrine such standards in the Libyan legal system.  This opportunity is unprecedented and must be seized by all those working towards a Libya of justice, of rule law and of stability.”

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