CIHRS and 11 Libyan Organizations: Libyan authorities’ failure to implement security arrangements feeds violence and bolsters terrorist groups

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

16 August 2016

The undersigned organizations are extremely concerned about the erosion of human rights in Libya. Fragmentation and lack of coordinated counterterrorism efforts has led to deterioration in the humanitarian situationليبيا and human rights violations committed by all parties to the armed conflict. These violations are carried out with complete impunity, constraining public space and further threatening human rights defenders and civil society members. Inaction – caused by fragmentation and a lack of a coordinated counterterrorism strategy – has stalled the implementation of the political accord and enabled terrorist groups of all stripes to inflict heavy casualties on Libyan forces in the east and west of the country.

In May 2015, a group of Libyan civil society organizations, in collaboration with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), demanded an increased role for Libyan civil society organizations, tribes and local councils in drafting items in the political agreement in a collaborative manner that guarantees the involvement of these different actors in implementing the agreement in Libya. In its current form, the agreement is based on talks between the House of Representatives (HoR) and the General National Congress (GNC) excluding any real comprehensive representation of Libyan society. Libyan civil society organizations were only able to insert input in the agreement concerning some guarantees for the protection of human rights, the independence of the judiciary, and the restructuring of security institutions.

The undersigned organizations also denounce the lack of the implementation of the political agreement, including the Presidency Council’s disregard to applying the temporary security arrangements. They also point to the HoR’s failure to give the Government of National Accord (GNA) a vote of confidence as well as its failure to include the political agreement within the 2011Constitutional Declaration.

On May 9[1], 2016, the Presidency Council, which entered Tripoli in March 2016, issued a decree establishing a unified Presidential Guard brigade to implement the agreed upon security arrangements, especially the temporary ones. The decree and its implementing mechanism, however, violates Articles 34 and 42, and the sixth annex of the political agreement. The decree and subsequent edicts did not regulate ceasefire arrangements and the withdrawal of armed groups from cities or define operating rules and rules of engagement for the military and police in dealing with armed groups, disciplinary and criminal procedures, or measures to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the aforementioned security arrangements.

The Presidency Council has disregarded these urgent arrangements, which were slated to go into effect in the period between the approval of the political agreement and the formation and approval of the government. Additionally, the implementation of the decree exacerbated divisions and added to the further fragmentation of security institutions through annexing armed groups wholesale into new military formations that include several armed groups from the western region as well as the Petroleum Facilities Guard. Moreover, the third article of the decree, which defines the units that will be integrated to the Presidential Guard, was not implemented.

Civil society organizations have repeatedly stressed the need[2] for the Libyan authorities to set priorities based on the political agreement: to draft a plan to restructure security institutions, to articulate a national project for Defense and Interior Ministry units and agencies with a clear chain of command and control, and to restructure these agencies without regard for political or geographic conflicts in line with local laws, the terms of the political agreement, and international law standards. These recommendations, however, have not been heeded.

By dismissing and disregarding these priorities, Libyan authorities are repeating the same mistakes made by The Transitional Council, the GNC, and the HoR through incorporating armed and paramilitary groups in the absence of any mechanism for individual integration or an instrument to define the chain of command. This fosters a climate in which armed groups dominate and which has, in turn, paralyzed state institutions. These groups commit grave violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law given the utter lack of accountability, and they benefit from huge sums from the state treasury, all while continuing to operate only nominally under state security institutions.

The undersigned organizations reiterate to the Presidency Council, the House of Representatives, and the international community the pressing need to meet their obligations to the Libyan people, in particular by swiftly carrying out the temporary security arrangements in a coordinated, sound manner, voting in the House to approve or amend the national accord government, and strengthening the national judicial system. The Libyan authorities must also work to stop the repeated violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and hold perpetrators to account while protecting the public space, guaranteeing freedom of association, and lifting restrictions on local and international non-governmental organizations. These organizations play a vital role in protecting human rights, promoting national reconciliation and providing humanitarian assistance.

The undersigned organizations urge the international community to pursue a uniform, coordinated policy in its support to the Presidency Council. A policy that focuses on  building sustainable security institutions in order to uproot terrorism, instead of uncoordinated assistance to particular armed and paramilitary groups on the ground in the east and west which undermines the Council’s ability, as the executive power, to unify these groups and entities and  obstructs the peace process and counterterrorism efforts.

Signatory Organizations:

  • Independent Organization for Human Rights
  • Youth For Tawergha Organization
  • Libyan Organization for Legal Aid
  • Libyan Journalists Independent Syndicate
  • Defenders Network
  • Belaady Foundation
  • Libyan Organization for Monitoring Human Rights Violations
  • Jurists without Chains
  • Women Defenders Network
  • Libyan Center for Freedom of Press
  • Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

[1] (Annex 2-3) number 2/2016

[2] In May and September 2015 and also in February and March 2016.

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