Libya: NPWJ supports accountability and rule of law through the Libyan Trial Monitoring Network

Tripoli, 10 July 2014

Following the Libyan revolution, there is a clear desire and expectation within Libya for justice and accountability to form part of the backbone of Libya’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. In particular, Libya has to address past violations during the conflict in 2011 (and subsequent events) and during the 42 years of the Gaddafi regime, to support an effective transition from authoritarianism to democracy and the rule of law. To reach these goals, it is important for the nascent Libyan civil society to have the necessary capacity and the knowledge to engage effectively with political actors and with grassroots constituencies in the conceptual development and implementation of transitional justice solutions. Engaging lawyers, civil society and the media in monitoring Libya's trials concerning the conflict and previous human rights violations in a professional and constructive manner will also contribute to promote transparency and accountability within the Libyan judiciary.
To this end, NPWJ supported the establishment in June 2013 of the Libyan Trial Monitoring Network (TMN), which includes Libyan lawyers and members of the Tripoli Bar Association. In the framework of its Transitional Justice Program in Libya, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) also organised several monthly meetings (in April, May and June this year) aimed at assisting the TMN in its ability to follow high-profile cases as they arise and to play a significant role in supporting judicial reforms and enhancing the fairness, effectiveness and transparency of the Libyan judiciary. These meetings, held at the NPWJ office in Tripoli, were focused on addressing the specific technical and practical challenges the TM group has faced so far in the process of establishing its presence in Libya and gaining entry to courts to monitor trials, in particular in Tripoli and Misurata, as well as in collecting and managing relevant data and information. Members of the TMN also underlined the importance of monitoring criminal cases, cases related to the revolution and cases related to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV),  which have a relevant impact for the ongoing country’s post-conflict transition.

Since its inception, the TMN has been monitoring very closely the proceedings of the the trials against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and other former top leaders of the past regime before the Libyan Courts. Without underestimating the serious challenges that the Libyan judicial system faces and the serious security concerns of the current crisis, these trials mark an historic opportunity for the Libyan authorities. After decades of dictatorship and illegality, Libya can demonstrate through these trials as well as appropriate judicial reforms its ability to break with the legacy of impunity and abuses that typified Gaddafi’s rule and replace it with a new respect for the rule of law by meeting the promise of justice and redress for the victims and their families.
It is critical for the Libyan judicial authorities to ensure that the domestic proceedings are conducted with fairness, impartiality and strict adherence to all due process rights, according to the highest international standards. Providing technical support to local authorities and civil society, including to monitoring mechanisms such as the Libyan Trial Monitoring Network, can significantly contribute to this process and lay the ground for a better, stable future for a new Libya based on human rights and the rule of law.
NPWJ in Libya
NPWJ has been working on the Libyan transition since early 2011 and has been on-the-ground since early October 2011. It has had a permanent presence in Tripoli since March 2012 and has been working to create a network of Libyan actors to engage different sectors of Libyan society on transitional justice. Its work in Libya combines the provision of transitional justice information (both in cooperation with the institutions and in partnerships with civil society), including on outreach and documentation, with research and analysis of public expectations and perceptions. NPWJ is partnering with a wide range of civil society organisations from across the country, including both more established and emerging ones. It aims to help build and reinforce the capacity of Libyan actors, including NGOs, academics, lawyers and media, public authorities and opinion-leaders, to play their role in incorporating accountability, human rights and the rule of law in the democracy transition and post-conflict reconstruction of their country. On the institutional side, NPWJ is working with the Ministry of Justice, and its Higher Judicial Training Institute, in providing training and expertise to the judges and prosecutors who have been charged with the enormous task of dealing with those suspected to have committed or directed atrocities during the conflict, and during the previous regime. NPWJ has also established a trial monitoring program, which is being run in collaboration with the Tripoli Bar Association and aims to promote transparency and accountability within the Libyan judiciary.
For further information on the activities of NPWJ in Libya please contact Giulia Cappellazzi, at  or +218911476934.