Annual Report: Libya 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Libya 2013

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Head of state Mohammed Magarief (replaced Mustafa Abdul al-Jalil)

Head of government Ali Zeidan (replaced Abdurrahim El-Keib)

Armed militias continued to commit serious human rights abuses with impunity, including arbitrary arrests, arbitrary detention, torture and unlawful killings. Thousands of people suspected of formerly supporting or fighting for Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi's government, overthrown in 2011, remained detained without charge or trial and with no means of remedy. Most were beaten or otherwise ill-treated in custody; tens died after torture. Tens of thousands of people who were forced to leave their homes in areas perceived to have supported Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi in 2011 remained internally displaced and were at risk of revenge attacks and other abuses. Undocumented foreign nationals faced arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, exploitation and torture or other ill-treatment. Sporadic armed confrontations between militias across the country caused hundreds of deaths; the victims included children and other civilians not involved in the fighting. Impunity remained entrenched, both for gross human rights violations committed in the past and for ongoing human rights abuses by armed militias. Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice. The death penalty remained in force; there were no executions.


On 7 July, Libyans elected a 200-member General National Congress (GNC), tasked with passing legislation, preparing the next parliamentary elections, appointing a government, and possibly overseeing the process of drafting the country's first Constitution in over 40 years. The National Transitional Council (NTC), which was established on 2 March 2011 and led the opposition to Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi, officially handed over power to the GNC on 8 August 2012.

Successive governments failed to rein in hundreds of armed militias that filled the security vacuum following the demise of al-Gaddafi's government in 2011. Many militias continued to act above the law, refusing to disarm or join the police or army. Efforts to integrate former anti-Gaddafi fighters into the Supreme Security Committee (SSC) of the Ministry of the Interior, for example, were devoid of any systematic vetting to weed out perpetrators of torture or other crimes under international law, potentially fuelling further abuses.

At the Human Rights Council (HRC) in March, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Libya reported that both pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces had committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights abuses during the 2011 conflict and that armed militias had committed serious human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention and torture after the hostilities ended. Nevertheless, the Libyan government rejected the inclusion of human rights monitoring and any reference to continuing violations in an HRC resolution on “Assistance to Libya in the field of human rights”.

Armed militias destroyed Sufi religious sites including in Tripoli and Zliten in August; no one was known to have been arrested or prosecuted for these attacks. Bomb and other attacks, particularly in Benghazi, targeted government buildings, including courthouses and police stations, as well as diplomatic missions and international organizations.

On 11 September, US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other US nationals were killed in an attack on the US diplomatic post in Benghazi. The Libyan government condemned the attack and announced arrests but no one was brought to justice by the end of the year.