The international community must ensure that there is a mechanism to continue the work done by the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya

New mechanism must ensure accountability for human rights violations in Libya

photo_camera ICC - At a landfill site in Tarhunah, Libya, more than 50 bodies have been identified in several mass graves. (file)

New tools must keep the world's attention on the grave violations and crimes against humanity being committed in Libya and bring justice to its victims, said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the last session of the Human Rights Council.

"The Libyan authorities, armed groups, smugglers and human traffickers must not assume that the eyes of the international community have now turned away from Libya," said Volker T眉rk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Echoing the calls for action made by the recently concluded Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, Volker T眉rk said that "it is crucial to redouble efforts to ensure accountability for past violations and to continue to monitor the reality on the ground to prevent future violations".

Oil-rich Libya has been in turmoil since the overthrow of its decades-long leader Muammar Gaddafi, who has seen rival administrations and warring militias compete to fill a power vacuum.

The UN-recognised Government of National Accord is based in the capital, Tripoli, while the forces of General Khalifa Haftar's so-called Libyan National Army control much of the east and south of the country.

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Call for a new mechanism

In its final report, the Mission recommended that the UN Human Rights Office establish a distinct and autonomous mechanism with a permanent mandate to monitor and report on serious human rights violations in Libya, with a view to supporting Libyan reconciliation efforts and assisting the Libyan authorities in achieving transitional justice and accountability.

Addressing the Council on Monday, the Mission's chairman, Mohamed Auajjar, shared grim details, findings and recommendations contained in its report.

"The situation in Libya remains very serious," he said. "Violations continue unabated, and fundamental freedoms and the human rights situation have deteriorated."

Widespread violence

After conducting more than 400 interviews, collecting more than 2800 pieces of information and carrying out 13 missions, including in Tripoli and Banghazi, as well as in countries such as Italy, Rwanda, Malta and the Netherlands, the Mission has found reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity were committed against Libyans and migrants across Libya in the context of deprivation of liberty since 2016.

The findings confirmed the widespread practice of arbitrary detention, murder, torture, rape, enslavement, sexual slavery and enforced disappearance, it said.

Crimes continue

"The rapid, deep and continuing absorption of armed groups and their leaders into state-affiliated structures and institutions are of great concern," Auajjar warned.

"We regret that these crimes continue to this day," he added.

The High Commissioner stressed that his Office will strengthen its work in Libya, where the human rights situation continues to deteriorate amid widespread violence by armed actors, the ongoing political stalemate and deepening restrictions on civic space.

Repression of civil society

He expressed deep concern about the intensifying crackdown on civil society, most recently a government decree outlawing all national and international civil society organisations registered after 2011.

"Civil society rules must respect the fundamental rights of freedom of assembly and association, and not stifle and criminalise the work of those working for a rights-based future for Libya," he said.

He also stressed the importance of holding national elections and working for sustainable peace.

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