Annual Report: Libya 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Libya 2013

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  • Four men from Tawargha were arrested at Tripoli airport on 6 May when they arrived on a flight from Benghazi. A relative accompanying them was told that they would be quickly released but they were still detained without trial at Misratah at the end of the year.

Some 58,000 people were reported to be internally displaced at the end of the year; thousands were accommodated in poorly resourced camps in Tripoli and Benghazi.


The authorities vowed to investigate gross human rights violations committed under Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi's government and initiated investigations into a number of former high-level officials and alleged al-Gaddafi loyalists, but took no steps to investigate ongoing violations by armed militias or bring those responsible to justice.

In May, the NTC passed Law 17 to establish a Fact-Finding and Reconciliation Commission. It was unclear whether the Commission's mandate covered only crimes committed by the former government or included those committed by others. No effective investigations were known to have been carried out by the Commission by the end of the year.

Law 35 on Amnesty, approved by the NTC in May, failed to comply with Libya's obligation under international law to investigate alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions, and prosecute alleged perpetrators.

Law 38 of 2012 provided blanket immunity to militiamen for acts deemed to have been committed with the aim of “protecting the 17 February Revolution”.

No meaningful investigations were carried out by the authorities into alleged war crimes and serious human rights abuses, including torture and unlawful killings, committed by armed militias during and following the armed conflict. No official findings were disclosed in relation to the apparent extrajudicial executions of Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi, his son Mu'tassim, and other alleged al-Gaddafi loyalists and soldiers after their capture in 2011.

The Libyan authorities refused to hand over Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and Abdallah al-Senussi, extradited from Mauritania to Libya on 5 September, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges on two counts of crimes against humanity. In June, four ICC staff were detained for over three weeks by militias in Zintan who accused them of violating national security. At the end of the year, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber had yet to rule on an admissibility challenge filed by the Libyan government on 1 May to try Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi under Libyan rather than ICC jurisdiction.

Freedoms of expression and assembly

The number of media outlets and civil society groups mushroomed. Critics of armed militias, including Libyan and foreign journalists, faced threats, intimidation, harassment and detention, leading to self-censorship.

  • On 25 August, Nabil Shebani, director of al-Assema TV station, was questioned for several hours by the SSC in Tripoli about al-Assema's coverage of the destruction of Sufi religious sites in Tripoli. He was released without charge.
  • On 19 July, British freelance journalist Sharron Ward was detained by armed militia members in Tripoli after filming at the Janzour Naval Academy Camp, where internally displaced Tawargha residents were sheltering. She was re-arrested on 21 July and forced to leave the country on 24 July. Some of her equipment was seized.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that Law 37 of 2012, which criminalized the “glorification of al-Gaddafi” and placed undue restrictions on freedom of expression, was unconstitutional.

In November, the GNC passed Law 65 of 2012 regulating demonstrations, which placed undue restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly.

Women's rights

Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice.

Two women were appointed in the interim government of Ali Zeidan. Thirty-three women were elected to the 200-member GNC, 32 from party lists and one independent candidate from Bani Walid. During the power handover ceremony to the GNC on 8 August, a female presenter was forced to leave the stage for not wearing a veil.