Analysis of ongoing violations of international law in Libya

NPWJ, April 2015

Libya’s transition to democracy remains hampered by institutional weakness and societal divisions. The humanitarian and political crisis, initiated in May 2014 with the launch of Operation Dignity and the attack against the Libyan Parliament, has further deteriorated the situation in the country, which is currently sliding toward fragmentation if not plain disintegration. An estimated 2 million Libyans out of a population of 6.2 million have been affected by the fighting, exacerbating an already untenable humanitarian crisis.
Libyan citizens are subjected daily to killings; unlawful deprivation of liberty; abductions; torture and other ill-treatment; death threats and other forms of intimidation, by armed groups and militias. The lack of prosecutorial capacity in the country has prevented the Libyan authorities from quelling violations of international and domestic law that continue to occur. The breakdown of law and order in Libya has had a severe negative impact on human rights defenders and the work of civil society across the country. Only a small amount of information about violations of international human rights and humanitarian law relating to the ongoing violence in Libya is being gathered; even that information lacks the level of details and elements that can make it actionable.
This report analyses the conduct of Libyan armed forces and armed groups to determine whether their acts violate the laws of armed conflict and international criminal law, with the hope of providing helpful information for future decision-making processes. The reconstruction of events combined with their legal analysis is a process that is integral to the prevention of denial, while establishing prima facie accountability for violations of international law and serves to promote and defend human rights through peaceful means. In order to ensure that serious violations of international law do not fade into the past, there must be full investigations of the conduct of the warring factions during this most recent conflict, so as to hold accountable those who have contributed to the violence and destruction throughout Libya.
This document seeks to provide a preliminary analysis of the current environment in Libya and to provide a pilot tool for activists, practitioners and other interested parties, as well as decision-makers, on the ongoing violence in Libya. The international community has yet to appropriately respond and there is much that needs to be done in order to facilitate Libya’s capacity in resolving the current situation, developing the rule of law within its borders and bringing responsible individuals to justice. It is hoped this document can be a catalyst towards turning that situation around and turning inaction into action.

NPWJ in Libya
NPWJ has been working on the Libyan transition since early 2011, in the framework of its project to support Libya’s democratic transition through justice and accountability. As the country embarks on legislative reforms, the Libyan authorities can break with the legacy of impunity and abuses that typified Gaddafi’s rule with a new respect for the rule of law and a commitment to restoring justice and dignity to victims. Doing so requires not only the investigation and prosecution of the crimes and violence perpetrated during the revolution, but also efforts to confront a history of oppression and human rights abuses that dates back decades under the rule of the former regime.     
For further information, please contact  Gianluca Eramo on or Nicola Giovannini (Press & Public Affairs Coordinator) on or +32 2 548 39 15.