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Libya: Joint NGO letter to the Government of Libya – The Need to Establish the OHCHR to Monitor and Report to the UN Human Rights Council on the Human Rights Situation in Libya

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The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (the Council) is set to discuss assistance to Libya in connection with the report of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on its technical assistance, capacity-building and cooperation with the transitional Government of Libya submitted further to the resolution “Assistance for Libya in the field of human rights (19/39), which was adopted by consensus at the 19th session of the Council (March, 2012)

The undersigned human rights organizations are deeply committed to ensuring that ongoing human rights challenges in Libya are adequately recognized and addressed. As such, we are writing to urge the Government of Libya to demonstrate its commitment to the protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights by supporting measures that will also enable the OHCHR to monitor and report to the Council on the human rights situation in Libya.

Resolution 19/39, as adopted, fails to include any provision for monitoring or reporting on the human rights challenges and overall human rights situation in Libya. At the 19th session of the Council, proposed amendments aimed at incorporating human rights reporting provisions in the resolution were not accepted in a vote by a narrow margin. We urge that any resolution put forward on Libya at the 22nd Session of the Council includes a provision for monitoring and reporting on the human rights challenges and overall evolution of the human rights situation in Libya.

The credibility of the Council’s efforts to assist Libya will be enhanced by such a provision. It would be an important step to demonstrate the Government of Libya’s openness to tackling ongoing human rights challenges and to ensuring that respect for human rights is firmly on the agenda of the Libyan Government. Furthermore, reporting on the human rights challenges will help to ensure that Libya receives the support and technical cooperation it needs from the Council, OHCHR and UN member states to overcome such challenges.

The Council’s discussion of the human rights situation in Libya must take account of past and present human rights violations, including both the pre-transition and post-transition periods. The recent armed conflict in Libya was animated in large measure by human rights grievances that accumulated over forty-two years of repressive rule exercised with systematic disregard for human rights. In this respect, the new Libyan Government has an obligation towards victims of human rights violations and abuses to approach human rights challenges with transparency, a willingness to discuss openly how to overcome these challenges, and to pursue accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses.

During this period of transition it is critical that the Government of Libya supports the rule of law and observance of human rights, and ensures national efforts in this regard. While we welcome the positive progress made by the Government since the successful elections of the General National Congress (GNC), serious human rights challenges remain a concern, including: human rights violations by armed militias, internal displacement of persons, allegations of torture in custody, arbitrary arrest and detention, indefinite detention of non-nationals outside any legal framework and a continued lack of accountability for rights abuses.

The undersigned organizations believe that the Government of Libya should support national and international transparency and accountability on human rights nationally and internationally as a key element of moving beyond past human rights violations and abuses. By ensuring a mechanism to report on these issues, the Libyan Government will contribute to promoting a culture of human rights and accountability within Libya and government institutions, and help to establish such an approach for future governments to follow.

We thank you for your dedicated attention to this matter.

Lawyers for Justice – Libya (LFJL)
Amnesty International
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
CIVICUS, World Movement for Citizen Participation
East and Horn of Africa Human Right Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
West African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN)

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