United Nations A/hrc/19/68

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II. Background

10. It is not possible to understand the current conditions in Libya without understanding the damage caused to the fabric of the society by decades of corruption, serious human rights violations and sustained repression of any opposition. Those factors are described in more detail in Annex I.

11. This report has focussed on alleged violations committed by all parties. Given the shift in power, a significant amount of this report focuses on abuses by those who rose up against the Qadhafi government. While major abuses are still occurring, the difference between the past and the present is that those responsible for abuses now are not as part of a system of brutality sanctioned by the central government. The Commission is cognizant of the challenges facing the new Libyan leadership in rebuilding a country left by the Qadhafi government devoid of independent institutions, a civil society, political parties, and a judiciary able to provide justice and redress.

12. Few officials spoken to by the Commission have demonstrated a real understanding of basic legal and human rights standards. Most existing prisons do not meet basic standards. Prison guards and police exhibited little concept of prisoners’ rights. Judges, prosecutors, the judicial police and others involved in the administration of justice and detention centres require training in human rights standards. Existing Libyan laws will need to be repealed or amended. The judicial system is not functioning effectively and suffers from the legacy of being used as a tool of repression. The vast majority of detainees are still held outside the legal framework, despite efforts to centralise detentions.

13. Some senior Government officials have expressed commitments to human rights. They have failed, however, to publicly condemn violations taking place since the fall of the Qadhafi government. In meetings with the Commission, government officials emphasized the precariousness of the security situation, the weakness of the national police and judicial police force, and the inability of the central authorities to enforce rule of law. The Commission acknowledges these difficulties, and welcomes the Government’s plans to disarm militias, and integrate fighters into the National Army or police force. A law on transitional justice and a law on amnesty have recently been adopted (See Annex I, sect. V). Delays in the administration of justice, however, increase risks of individual victims or their family members taking the law into their own hands.

14. The Commission gathered information on military forces and structures of the Qadhafi Government and the thuwar (See Annex I, sect. II) to obtain a better understanding of the conflict and to be able to identify specific units involved in violations. In many instances, the Commission has been able to assign responsibility to specific individuals. The Annex to this report contains details of these forces. In most cases, the Commission has withheld the names of individuals believed to hold responsibility for violations. This is partly to prevent reprisals and partly to avoid prejudicing future fair trials. The Commission will, however, provide a list of such individuals to the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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