As the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is marked globally, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has renewed its insistence on the protection and promotion of human rights, as key to Libya’s journey towards democracy.
UNSMIL has expressed deep concern over the ongoing suppression of civic freedoms, and the arbitrary detention in Libya, which are creating an environment of intimidation. This situation is detrimental to the essential open dialogue and rights-based reconciliation necessary for fair and transparent elections in the country. Abdoulaye Bathily, the UN Envoy, and Head of UNSMIL emphasized the importance of a “vibrant civic space in Libya, where dialogue, dissent, and understanding are pivotal for the political process.”
Amidst global challenges to the values of the Universal Declaration, Bathily highlighted the urgent need to uphold these principles. He stressed the importance of “supporting, protecting, and empowering Libyan civil society actors and human rights defenders, who are crucial in promoting these values.”
UNSMIL has documented numerous instances of arbitrary arrests and detentions of individuals, including men, women, and children, by various security forces across Libya, in the past nine months. These actions not only contravene Libya’s national legislation and international commitments, but are also politically motivated, targeting individuals based on their political associations.
Bathily has called for the immediate and unconditional release of those unjustly detained, including members of political parties, academics, and activists in Tripoli, Benghazi, and Sirte, who are currently denied access to justice.
The Mission has raised alarms over the threats, harassment, hate speech, and unlawful arrests faced by politically active Libyans. UNSMIL urges Libyan authorities at all levels to “safeguard freedom of speech and expression and to halt the prevalent practice of arbitrary arrests and detentions.”
The role of academics, journalists, civil society members, and politically active individuals in raising awareness about political processes and elections is crucial. They ensure the openness, transparency, and inclusive engagement of women, youth, and marginalized groups in these processes. Bathily warned that “stifling these voices and instilling fear not only undermines the foundations of Libya’s democratic transition, but also emboldens those who oppose it and allows security forces to commit human rights violations with impunity.”
At this pivotal moment for Libya, as Bathily continues to work towards a political settlement and the path to elections, UNSMIL reminds all parties that human rights and the rule of law must be central to Libya’s future.