On Monday, the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Libya expressed its deep concerns over the country’s deteriorating human rights situation.
In its final report, the Mission stated that “there are grounds to believe a wide array of war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed by state security forces and armed militia groups.”
It noted that investigations “documented numerous cases of arbitrary detention, murder, rape, enslavement, extrajudicial killing, and enforced disappearance.” As well as noting that nearly all survivors interviewed had refrained from lodging official complaints, out of fear of reprisals, arrest, extortion, and a lack of confidence in the justice system.
“Migrants, in particular, have been targeted and there is overwhelming evidence that they have been systematically tortured. The report said there were reasonable grounds to believe that sexual slavery, a crime against humanity, was committed against migrants,” the statement added.
Mohamed Auajjar, the Mission’s chair said that “there is an urgent need for accountability to end this pervasive impunity.”
He also called on Libyan authorities to “develop a human rights plan of action, and a comprehensive, victim-centred roadmap on transitional justice without delay, and hold all those responsible for human rights violations accountable.”
According to the statement, Libya’s government is “obligated to investigate allegations of human rights violations and crimes in areas under its control, in accordance with international standards. The practices and patterns of gross violations continue unabated, and there is little evidence that meaningful steps are being taken to reverse this troubling trajectory, and bring recourse to victims,” the report said.
The UN Human Rights Council established the FFM in June 2020. This was to investigate violations and abuses of human rights by all parties since the beginning of 2016, to prevent the further deterioration of the human rights situation, and to ensure accountability. Since then, the FFM has undertaken 13 missions, conducted more than 400 interviews, and collected more than 2,800 items of information, including photographic and audio-visual imagery.
The FFM’s investigations found that Libyan authorities, notably the security sector, are “curtailing the rights to assembly, association, expression, and belief to ensure obedience, entrench self-serving values and norms, and punish criticism against authorities and their leadership.”
The report said that “trafficking, enslavement, forced labour, imprisonment, extortion, and smuggling of vulnerable migrants generated significant revenue for individuals, groups, and state institutions, and incentivized the continuation of violations.”
It claimed that there are reasonable grounds to believe migrants were enslaved in official detention centers. As well as “secret prisons,” and that rape as a crime against humanity was committed.
The report also said women are systematically discriminated against in Libya, and concluded that their situation has markedly deteriorated over the last three years. The enforced disappearance of MP Sihem Sergiwa, and the killing of Hannan Barassi remained issues of deep concern for the FFM. The Experts reiterated their call on the authorities in Benghazi to adequately investigate these violations, and hold those responsible accountable.
The Mission called on the Human Rights Council to establish a sufficiently resourced, independent international investigation mechanism, and urged the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to “establish a distinct and autonomous mechanism with an ongoing mandate to monitor and report on gross human rights violations with a view to support Libyan reconciliation efforts, and assist the Libyan authorities in achieving transitional justice and accountability.”
To strengthen accountability, the FFM will share with the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to standards of international cooperation in criminal matters and the UN-ICC Relationship Agreement. This includes relevant materials and findings it has collected throughout its mandate, and a list of individuals it has identified as possible perpetrators of human rights violations and international crimes.