LFJL and Amnesty International deliver oral statement at UN Human Rights Council

September 25, 2019

Mr. Vice-President,

Amnesty International and Lawyers for Justice in Libya welcome the Deputy High Commissioner’s oral update and the Special Representative’s address. Their words are alarming; their calls are compelling. We echo their calls for the establishment of an international investigative mechanism for Libya.

Libya faces an upsurge in hostilities; armed groups, militias, and the military continue to violate international humanitarian law and abuse human rights in a climate of unbridled impunity.

Over the past few years our organizations have urged the Council to focus on accountability for the violations in Libya by establishing a body that can independently investigate the ongoing crimes with the purpose of identifying the perpetrators.  Such a body would contribute to eroding the environment of impunity that has emboldened perpetrators.

To date, the widespread use of enforced disappearances and abduction to silence dissenting voices has become a pattern across Libya, with an increase of reported cases since this April.The abduction of parliamentarian and women’s rights activist Siham Sergiwa, is but one example. Sergiwa was abducted from her home in Benghazi by armed men on 17 July 2019, after expressing views against the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army’s (LNA) offensive on Tripoli. Her fate remains unknown.

Since the beginning of the current fighting in Tripoli this April, the situation in Libya has deteriorated further.  Amnesty International delegates on the ground in Libya witnessed a pattern of attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure and indiscriminate attacks, facilitated by the proliferation of weapons, especially from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, despite the UN arms embargo. These include attacks on Mitiga airport,medical personnel and facilities and schools, which may amount to war crimes.

According to the World Health Organization, since April 2019, 106 civilians have been killed, over 300 injured and more than 100,000 people were displaced across Libya.[1] The indiscriminate use of artillery and wildly inaccurate Grad rocket salvos have killed and injured civilians living near Mitiga, and shut down flights at the civilian airport.  Medics and rescuers providing emergency care to wounded fighters near frontline military positions in the outskirts of Tripoli were killed and injured in LNA attacks.

On 2 July, an attack on Tajoura immigration detention centre killed and injured dozens of migrants and refugees. This attack underscores the extremely serious consequences of Libya and Europe’s shared policy of intercepting migrants and returning them to Libya, where they are arbitrarily detained and risk being tortured or killed in indiscriminate or targeted attacks.

Mr. Vice-President, we urge members of this Council to work together towards ending violence and impunity in Libya and to establish at this Council’s following session an independent accountability mechanism on Libya.  It is only through progress towards justice for victims and holding perpetrators to account that gross violations will be ended and conditions for a just, sustainable peace can be established.

Thank you, Mr. Vice-President.

[1] https://twitter.com/UNHCRLibya/status/1168084210466377729

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