As key states meet in Berlin today, Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) calls on the Berlin Peace Conference to prioritise accountability for violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.
The Berlin process has identified the respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law as one of the six areas of concern. LFJL welcomes this important step and reminds those attending the Conference that unless accountability for international crimes and violations of human rights law is expressly addressed, this process will prove to be yet another international cosmetic effort geared towards rewarding criminals and spoilers of peace. “Accountability is a prerequisite, and not an obstacle, to peace and unless that is reflected in the outcomes of the Conference, then Berlin will prove to be yet another wasted opportunity,” said Marwa Mohamed, Head of Advocacy and Outreach at LFJL.
LFJL welcomes the efforts towards achieving a permanent cease-fire that can help bring an end to the nine-month long armed conflict that has claimed far too many lives and brought unnecessary destruction. However, any settlement which does not include a right to justice, truth, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence will remain empty and will not deliver a lasting or sustainable peace.
LFJL further welcomes the Berlin process’ declared commitment to implement the arms embargo established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011). The declared intention of unifying the International Community in their support for a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis in Berlin today must demonstrate this by holding those responsible for breaching the arms embargo to account. “The armed conflict in Libya is fuelled by support from states attending the Conference; until they, and all those participating in the Conference, make an unequivocal commitment to uphold the arms embargo and to hold to account all those who have breached the arms embargo, there will be no peaceful solution in Libya,” added Mohamed.
The complete absence of accountability for those inside and outside the country fuelling the conflict has allowed the country to plummet into ongoing conflict. “With the prevailing environment of impunity, the international community is in fact sending the message that those implicated in mass atrocious are rewarded,” said Mohamed. “Berlin is an opportunity to end this,” she added.
The current fighting is the latest in a series of armed conflicts since 2014 between warring factions, which has led to a virtual split along geographical and ideological lines in Libya. Since then, a fertile environment for criminals has prevailed, enabling an environment of impunity. For years, rights-based organisations have called out against the violations and international crimes ongoing in Libya, which include abductions, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killings carried out with complete impunity.
States attending the Conference should commit to establishing an accountability mechanism that will investigate independently the crimes committed and identify the perpetrators and state responsibility, as called for by civil society actors and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. “We remind states that there are tools and mechanisms at their disposal, the Human Rights Council will meet on Libya in March 2020; this is the time to establish a commission of inquiry as a first step towards ending the cycle of impunity that has prevailed for far too long in Libya,” said Mohamed.