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Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogues on the situation of human rights in Somalia and in Libya

Human Rights Council
MIDDAY 

27 September 2017

Hears Address by the President of the Central African Republic

The Human Rights Council during its midday meeting held an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia and an interactive dialogue on the oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Libya. The President of the Central African Republic also addressed the Council.

Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic, said that for several decades, the Central African Republic had been facing enormous challenges with massive violations of human rights and international law, with women regularly being targeted for sexual and gender-based crimes while child soldiers were forced to commit crimes.  As soon as the constitutional order had been restored, the fight against impunity had been set as a priority, and a special criminal court had been established. The new Constitution adopted in 2017 recognized human rights as the basis for peace and justice in the world.  The Government was committed to restoring social cohesion and lasting peace in the country.     

Bahame Nyadunga, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, said Somalia had made significant progress on the human rights situation, although a number of natural and man-made factors continued to have a negative impact, particularly the attacks by Al Shabaab and the fighting between clan militias which caused civilian casualties. 

Somalia spoke as the concerned country, saying that it was more than willing to promote and protect human rights but required increased capacity building and technical support to be able to do so.  The Human Rights Council and its international partners were urged to step up efforts in that regard.

In the interactive discussion, numerous speakers positively noted the recent elections, which included an increase in the number of female members of Parliament.  However, much remained to be done, they said, noting that serious issues remained, including ongoing discrimination against women and girls, sexual and gender-based violence, and abuses against journalists.  Several delegations lamented Somalia’s continued retention of the death penalty.  It was also said that fighting impunity must be a priority, as it was essential for the future stability of the country.

Participating in the debate were the delegations of European Union, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, France, Australia, Egypt, Germany, Italy, United Nations Children's Fund, United States, United Kingdom, Mozambique, Turkey, Botswana, Ireland, Qatar, and Yemen.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, International Federation of Journalists, Human Rights Watch, International Educational Development Inc., and Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme.

Turning to the situation of human rights in Libya, Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that throughout the year, the human rights component of the United Nations mission in Libya, with the support of the Office, had continued its monitoring and reporting role.  Across the country, armed groups were defining the overall human rights situation, which was characterized by hostage-taking and torture, and men, women and children being killed with impunity.  Migrants in Libya continued to be held arbitrarily for indefinite periods and in inhumane conditions.  All allegations of human rights abuses should be investigated and perpetrators brought to justice.

Matilda Bogner, Head of the Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Division of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, stressed that it was only once the issue of armed groups was addressed that the situation of human rights in Libya could be addressed.  A transitional justice road map worked to support interim, transitional justice measures that should be built on further to ensure victims were recognized.  Regarding the abuses of migrants, she highlighted the plight of women migrants, who were subjected to systematic rape.  The road ahead would need united support to move the process forward. 

Libya spoke as the concerned country, saying that the Government was committed to following up on the implementation of the principles contained in the political agreement on human rights providing, notably, remedies and redress for victims.  Libya was shouldering an increasing burden socially and economically to protect persons migrating to Europe, an issue which would never be addressed without cooperation with European Union Member States. 

In the interactive discussion, speakers voiced concern about human rights violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, and grave concern about the hundreds of thousands of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons who remained at risk of indefinite detention in appalling conditions.  The uncontrolled proliferation of weapons, organized crime, trafficking and smuggling of migrants presented significant challenges for the country.  Speakers also underscored the crucial importance of the international community supplying Libya with appropriate technical assistance and capacity building.

Participating in the debate were the delegations of the European Union, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Qatar, Sudan, Greece, Netherlands, Spain, Egypt, Bahrain, Italy, United States, Tunisia, China, Portugal, United Kingdom, Turkey, Jordan, Hungary, Malta, Ireland, Algeria, Mali, United Arab Emirates and Ukraine.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, and Article 19 – The International Centre against Censorship.

At 4 p.m., the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi.  Time permitting, the Council will subsequently hold an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, Marie Therese Keita Bocoum.

Statement by the President of the Central African Republic

FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, President of the Central African Republic, expressed his gratitude, on behalf of the people of the Central African Republic, to the Council for its invitation to take the floor at the thirty-sixth session.  For several decades, the Central African Republic had been facing enormous challenges in terms of governance.  These challenges had been further accentuated by military conflicts which had weakened the State’s institutions, particularly the judiciary.  The situation was characterized by massive violations of human rights and international law as well as serious violations based on gender.  Women were regularly targeted by sexual and gender-based crimes while child soldiers were forced to commit crimes.  Since the beginning of the crisis in 2013, hundreds of thousands of persons had been displaced, 400,000 had died and thousands had been injured.  This crisis had deeply weakened the authority of the State and the independence of the judiciary, which had paved the way for people to render their own justice.  This situation was unacceptable. 

As soon as constitutional order had been restored, the fight against impunity had been set as a priority to ensure a quick return to peace, which would prevent new violence from happening.  The Government had undertaken a number of actions to combat impunity as well as protect and promote human rights.  The Central African Republic remained committed to the vales of the United Nations Charter with a goal of zero impunity in order to reach everlasting peace.   Peace and justice were complementary. The State had the obligation to judge those responsible for grave violations of human rights such as war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The impunity seen in the last few decades had enabled new crimes.  Therefore, just and fair trials were not only an obligation towards victims but also a way to send a strong signal that such crimes would not be reiterated.  The judiciary was faced with limited resources that hindered its investigations in complicated crimes.  In order to overcome this lack of resources, the Central African Republic had decided to establish, through the adoption of a law in June 2015, a special criminal court composed of 13 national and 12 international magistrates responsible to judge those who had committed crimes since 2013. 

The Government welcomed the complementarity between the special criminal court, the International Criminal Court and the other national tribunals which would improve the investigations.  It would be the occasion to bring satisfaction to the victims of the crimes.  An exercise of cartography was also being carried out in the country with the support of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, to enable the prosecutor to access better information.  Along the same lines, a code of military justice had been adopted in 2017 to promote discipline in the army and offer avenues to civil courts for victims.  The department of justice was currently working to redeploy all magistrates and judges throughout the territory.  Three appeal courts were also carrying their own investigations.  Progress had also been made in the constitutional framework in order to protect and promote human rights.  The new Constitution adopted in 2017 recognized the existence of human rights as a basis for peace and justice in the world.  It also consecrated the separation of powers.  A national human rights commission had been established in 2017 on the basis of the Paris Principles.  Mr. Touadera thanked the African Union and the international community for the Francophonie who would support this institution.  A centre providing a holistic coverage of victims of gender-based crimes had also been established while police officers had been trained.  The penitentiary system had been improved, particularly through the rehabilitation of prisoners. 

Mr. Touadera noted that the end of the political transition did not mean the end of the crisis.  Reinsuring genuine rule of law remained a challenge.  The Government was strongly committed to restore social cohesion and lasting peace in the country.  These challenges could be tackled with the support of all the country’s partners and the international community.   

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia (A/HRC/36/62).

Presentation of Report by the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia

BAHAME NYADUNGA, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, presenting his report, thanked the Federal Government of Somalia for its support and cooperation in the implementation of the mandate, and the international community which had clearly demonstrated its commitment to supporting the efforts of this country to improve the situation of human rights.  The 2017 London Somalia Conference had concluded with commitments to reform the security and justice sectors, governance, democratization and peace building; the adoption of an exit strategy for the African Union Mission in Somalia; and the endorsement of Somalia’s National Security Architecture which was central to achieving sustainable security sector reforms.  Somalia had adopted the National Security Policy and a new Policing Model, which would streamline decision making and political functions between the federal and state levels.  The State formation process in Somalia was ongoing, with the Federal Government and the leaders of the Federal Member States continuing the negotiation of the new governance framework.  The recent election of the Hirshabelle State President, together with the strengthening of the security and justice architecture, was of a critical importance to the improvement of the rule of law and human rights in Somalia.

Mr. Nyadunga stressed the sterling role played by Somali women during the electoral process, noting that despite many challenges, including the Al Shabaab threats and the traditional patriarchal system, women had increased their representation in Parliament from 38 to 67 members representing 24.7 per cent, and 13 out of 54 members of the Upper House of the Federal Parliament were women.  The Federal Government had embarked on the finalization of the legal and institutional framework for the 2021 elections, said the Independent Expert and stressed that the current positive momentum in peace building and State building in Somalia needed to be sustained.  It was hoped that the consultations would resolve the outstanding issues so that the 2021 election calendar was adopted, and it might also include a comprehensive political settlement on major outstanding political issues such as the organization of political parties and the elimination of clannism from governance.

Somalia had made significant progress in the human rights situation, although a number of natural and man-made factors continued to have negative impacts, particularly the attacks by Al Shabaab and the fighting between clan militias which caused civilian casualties.  International displacement was on the rise as a result of the insecurity and drought conditions: the drought affected more than half the population, decimated 60 per cent of the livestock, the mainstay of the local and national economy, and led to food shortages, causing high rates of child malnutrition and mortality.  Somali youth continued to fall victims of human trafficking due to lack of opportunity in the country, particularly while trying to reach Europe.  Mr. Nyadunga informed the international community that due to the lack of financial and human resources and capacity, Somalia was lagging behind in the implementation of a number of its Universal Periodic Review recommendations, including to adopt a moratorium on the death penalty and to adopt the Sexual Offences Bill which had been withdrawn because of faith-based reasons.  However, the new Federal Government was reviewing the Bill with the view to presenting it to the Federal Parliament again.  Puntland had adopted a Sexual Offences Law, the Anti-Rape Act and the Juvenile Justice Law, which enhanced the protection of women against sexual and gender-based violence.

Statement by the Concerned Country

Somalia, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the Independent Expert for his positive engagement with Somalia on the promotion and protection of human rights and welcomed his report.  Somalia was more than willing to promote and protect human rights but it required increased capacity building and technical support to be able to do this.  It would take time to ensure that the Government was strong enough to actually be effective on human rights.  Somalia urged the Human Rights Council and its international partners to step up their efforts relating to technical support and capacity building, including support to the human rights institutions on the ground in Somalia.

Interactive Dialogue on Somalia

European Union commended the Government for the election process, peaceful transfer of power, and the increase in the number of female members of Parliament, and urged Somalia to urgently set up a national human rights institution.  It remained deeply concerned about the discrimination against women and girls, sexual and gender-based violence, abuses against journalists, civilian casualties and continued use of the death penalty.  Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, encouraged the United Nations to continue to support the efforts of Somalia to improve the human rights situation, and in particular not to ignore the tragedy that was unfolding as a result of the 20 years of State collapse.  The situation in Somalia was very serious on many fronts, including political, security and humanitarian.  Sudan welcomed the continued commitment of Somalia to the Universal Periodic Review, and in this context commended the adoption of the bill on the establishment of the national human rights institution and the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

United Arab Emirates welcomed the ongoing cooperation between the Government of Somalia and the Independent Expert with the view of improving human rights and said that, in response to the Independent Expert’s call to step up the support to this country, the United Arab Emirates had provided funding for mobile health units to be deployed throughout the country in order to provide health care to people in remote areas.  France took positive note of the progress made in Somalia and of the challenges it faced in the State-building process.  Fighting impunity must be a priority as it was essential for the future stability of the country, as was the strengthening of the judiciary and the setting up of a national human rights institution.  Australia encouraged the implementation of the bill on the establishment of the national human rights institutions and urged Somalia to ensure it was adequately resourced.  Attacks on civilians by the Government forces, militias and terrorist groups remained a concern, as did the precarious situation of internally displaced persons.

Egypt welcomed elections being held by the Somali Government, with a view to promoting stability in the human rights sector.  It was necessary to coordinate international efforts, and the international community should provide assistance allowing Somalia to overcome challenges.  Germany commended the Federal Government and the Somali people for the elections, calling on the Somali leadership to implement Somalia’s human rights commitments.  There was a need for legislative and judicial sector reform, and guaranteeing girls’ and women’s rights; the Independent Expert was asked how the participation of women could be strengthened.  Italy expressed appreciation for the efforts of Somalia in the governance process, and encouraged the Federal Government to further protect the rights of women and children.  Reconciliation at all levels would create conducive conditions for human rights all over the country.

United Nations Children's Fund said the situation in Somalia presented significant challenges and opportunities for children, calling on authorities to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, among other ratifications.  Grave violations of the human rights of children continued.  UNICEF expressed concern about the high levels of sexual violence against children and women.  United States said Somalia’s continued security challenges underlined its need for leadership, noting that the country was continuing to make progress.  The Government’s mistreatment of journalists was deeply concerning, and the Independent Expert was asked how the Federal Government could be encouraged vis-à-vis elections.  United Kingdom said much remained to be done to address serious violations and abuses, and a culture of impunity.  Somali authorities were urged to implement existing commitments swiftly, including those to improve accountability for human rights abuses.

Mozambique welcomed the progress made in Somalia and in particular the holding of free and fair elections, notwithstanding the threats of Al Shabab and the drought which seriously affected 60 per cent of the population, and appealed to the international community to continue to support Somalia, especially the victims of the drought which was in its third year.  Turkey welcomed the electoral maturity recently demonstrated in Somalia and said that, as a member of the Somalia Core Group, Turkey had actively contributed in the preparation of the London Conference, and had contributed over $ 600 million to support the country.  As the Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey had also initiated a fact-finding mission into the drought-affected regions.  Botswana said that the successful elections were an affirmation of the positive steps Somalia had taken towards the restoration of peace and the establishment of democracy institutions and, stressing the continued threat by terrorists, underlined the importance of the endorsement of the national security architecture by the London Conference.

Ireland welcomed the peaceful transition of power in Somalia and the engagement of the Government in the humanitarian response to the drought which was vital in preventing famine.  Ireland remained concerned not only about the ongoing insurgency of Al Shabaab, but also about the use of the death penalty, the enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to justice and the protection of women and girls.  Qatar was pleased by the successful transition in Somalia which was crucial to ensuring the national reconciliation and addressing the key challenges of terrorism and the difficult economic situation, including the drought.  Qatar was pleased by steps taken to strengthen the institutions, including the decision to establish a national human rights institution.  Yemen welcomed the report and said that in view of the ongoing challenges that Somalia faced, it was important for the international community not to ignore the tragedy in Somalia, which was due to civil strife and terrorism, which had led to the collapse of the State and had caused the majority of Somalis to flee to other States, including to Yemen.

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcomed the new Government of Somalia and encouraged it to strengthen its human rights framework.  It noted serious limitations on freedom of expression following the election process, adding that it was unacceptable that the cases of arbitrary arrests involved journalists and human rights defenders.  International Federation of Journalists expressed grave concern about the continued attacks on journalists, freedom of expression and freedom of association in Somalia, noting that the country had become the theatre of the gravest patterns of human and trade union rights violations.  Human Rights Watch stated that civilians continued to experience a dire humanitarian situation in Somalia, as the Government forces also targeted civilians in their actions against the Al Shabab terrorist group.  The Government and its international partners needed to prioritize efforts to address impunity through the establishment of effective civilian oversight mechanisms.

International Education Development Inc. noted that the situation in Somalia remained grim, although there were promising events such as the taking up of the presidency by Mr. Farmajo.  There was widespread recognition that judicial reform was urgently needed.  Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme commended the elections in Somalia and agreed that they had resulted in a peaceful transition of power.  It encouraged the Government’s efforts at the federal level to increase participation in public affairs.  It was crucial to implement the national security pact and train the Somalian security forces following 30 years of conflict. 

Concluding Remarks

BAHAME NYANDUGA, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, stressed that Somalia was a country in transition and was not yet stabilized; without security, the enjoyment of human rights was very difficult.  A number of speakers had raised important points, including to ensure the implementation of the decisions adopted by the London Conference, particularly in terms of security sector reform and strengthening this sector, which was crucial for the country.  The Independent Expert had noted the concerns raised about the high levels of sexual and gender-based violence, and about the oppression of journalists and media professionals, and said that there was an ongoing process to review the 2016 media law which would be focused on ensuring that the mistakes contained in the previous version of the law were avoided. 

Mr. Nyanduga underscored the need for institutional reforms which would guarantee the enjoyment of rights of women, and said that the current Government was reviewing the Sexual Offences Bill with the view of presenting it to Parliament for adoption.  In terms of best practices in the protection of women and girls from violence, the Independent Expert noted the example of Puntland and the legislation it had adopted, which would also offer the basis of advocacy on this issue.  Elders had stepped in to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the State, including in adjudicating in matters of sexual and gender-based violence.  In terms of the implementation of the principle of one person-one vote, the Independent Expert explained that the efforts were ongoing to remove the current clan-based system which had been used in the 2016 election, and replace it with this principle, which was also to be enshrined in the Constitution, expected to be adopted soon.

Interactive Dialogue on the Oral Update of the High Commissioner on the Situation of Human Rights in Libya

Presentation of Oral Update

KATE GILMORE, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, reminded that in line with the Council resolution 34/38 adopted in March 2017, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had been requested to report on human rights violations and abuses in Libya with a view to reducing and addressing impunity.  Throughout the year, the human rights component of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), with the support of the Office, had continued its monitoring and reporting role.  The Office had publicly and privately intervened on individual cases and in response to patterns of violations and abuses.  Across Libya, it was armed groups that were defining the overall human rights situation for the country’s people – armed groups that were on all sides of the conflict, including those that supported the Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army and its allies.  On all sides of the conflict, armed groups had violated international humanitarian and human rights law, causing civilians casualties – taking hostages, and torturing and killing of men, women and children with impunity – operating outside any effective framework of accountability.  The people of Libya were quite simply sick and tired of that situation.  Its impact was felt by children, women and men across the country.  The perpetrators were criminally liable for their actions, including potentially before the International Criminal Court.  In that regard, the Court’s recent arrest warrant for Mahmoud Al-Werfalli, for murder as a war crime, was welcome.  The Office called on all parties in Libya to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1970. 

Criminal violence and impunity had worsened into an all-out humanitarian crisis in Derna, where the Libyan National Army was restricting freedom of movement of civilians in and out of the city, and obstructing their access to basic necessities, including to food and fuel.  Disappearances also continued and children continued to be gravely impacted by the conflict.  Children had been victims of targeted killings and hostage taking.  The human rights component of the mission had documented numerous instances in which women had been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, often due to family affiliations or for the purpose of prisoner exchanges.  In many instances, women were being held in facilities without female guards, amidst reports of sexual abuse.  Migrants in Libya continued to be held arbitrarily for indefinite periods and in inhumane conditions.  Inside official and unofficial detention centres they were subjected to horrific abuse.  The situation at sea was no less tragic.  Most recently, the Coast Guard had announced the prohibition of search and rescue operations in international waters near Libya upon the threat of force.  The Office reiterated its call upon Libya, the European Union and Italy to urgently take measures to ensure that non-governmental organizations could safely resume search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean in line with international law. 

Ms. Gilmore noted that the documented cases in Libya revealed a fundamental lack of protection for civilians and starkly illustrated the desperate situation of people in the most vulnerable situations – all of whom had little or no recourse to redress.  The situation was so dire, the threat of violence and intimidation so oppressive, that the Office struggled to hear their voices, let alone secure their protection or provide them with modest relief of due justice.  The rampant impunity affecting the people of Libya not only destroyed lives today, but viciously eroded prospects for peace tomorrow.  Impunity must find no home in Libya, Ms. Gilmore stressed.  The Government of Libya, with support of the United Nations, had to start a systematic process to remove law enforcement powers from armed groups and bring all detention and interrogation facilities back under its jurisdiction.  All allegations of human rights abuses should be investigated and perpetrators brought to justice.

Statement by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya

MATILDA BOGNER, Head of the Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Division of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, said requirements included action to address issues around internally displaced persons, including through a dedicated financing mechanism.  Following a referendum on the adoption of a constitution, the election of a President and a Parliament was envisioned.  Armed groups on all sides of the conflict complicated the path forward.  They were responsible for grave human rights abuses.  People disappeared and were found a day later, their bodies dumped on the street.  Patterns of violations were repeated again and again, and judicial authorities were unable to ensure accountability, facing threats when following the rule of law.  Some armed groups played a role in the abuse of migrants.  Places of detention were run by armed groups, who supported the human trafficking and smuggling networks.  Once the issue of armed groups was addressed, the situation of human rights in Libya could be addressed. 

On the implementation of the resolution, the human rights component of the Mission had continued to document the human rights situation in Libya.  Member States were encouraged to mitigate the risks of Libyan security forces committing grave human rights violations.  Building on previous work documenting the work of human rights defenders, the Mission was working with the United Nations bodies.  A transitional justice road map worked to support interim, transitional justice measures that should be built on further to ensure victims were recognized.  Internally displaced persons in Libya had a right to return.  Regarding the abuses of migrants, she highlighted the plight of women migrants, who were subjected to systematic rape.  Humanitarian interventions and monitoring advocacy had proved to be insufficient.  She commended the Human Rights Council for its attention to Libya and the crucial issue of combatting impunity.  The road ahead would need united support to move the process forward. 

Statement by the Concerned Country

Libya, speaking as the concerned country, thanked the Deputy High Commissioner for her update.  Any improvement to the security situation and the stability of the State would reflect on the situation of human rights and the rule of law.  Libya reiterated its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and recognized that there were a number of challenges that needed to be addressed.  The indiscriminate spread of arms in the country added to the activities of terrorist and outlawed armed groups.  Human rights violations of civilians in Libya continued, including torture and enforced disappearances.  It was necessary to work in a constructive way and on an ongoing basis to achieve the stabilisation of the country.  The Government was committed to follow up on the implementation of the principles contained in the political agreements on human rights providing, notably, remedies and redress for victims.  The international community should continue to support the national efforts deployed to strengthen the institutions of the State.  Libya was also shouldering an increasing burden socially and economically to protect persons migrating to Europe.  This issue would never be addressed without complete regional cooperation, notably with the European Union Member States.  Libya called on the international community to continue providing technical assistance and capacity building to the country and renewed its commitment to fully cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Interactive Discussion on the Situation of Human Rights in Libya

European Union voiced concern about continued and in some cases increasing human rights violations and abuses in Libya, including extrajudicial killings.  It was also gravely concerned about hundreds of thousands of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons who remained at risk of indefinite detention in appalling conditions.  Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, recognized the security challenges faced by Libya, such as activities of terrorist groups, uncontrolled proliferation of weapons, organized crime, and trafficking and smuggling of migrants.  The African Group asked that technical assistance be provided to the Government of National Accord.  Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, supported the efforts to deal with the crisis in Libya and welcomed the recently announced roadmap.  Any solution should come under the framework of the United Nations.  The Arab Group condemned terrorist attacks on civilians, as well as the proliferation of weapons and cross-border crime. 

Qatar noted that Libya was undergoing a decisive period: either it would move with the political process to protect the rights of its people, or it would collapse into complete deterioration.  All Libyan parties had to assume their obligations and put aside their differences in order to build a stable society.  Sudan stated that despite the enormous challenges faced by Libya, the Government had demonstrated its commitment to fulfil its human rights obligations.  However, that would not be possible without appropriate technical assistance and capacity building.  Greece stressed that securing humanitarian access to all Libyans and securing the rights of migrants were of paramount importance.  Greece paid particular attention to international efforts to stabilize the country, taking into account Libyan ownership of that process. 

Netherlands said all parties in Libya should engage in serious political dialogue to find a solution to settle their differences.  The current political situation made it difficult to hold human rights violators to account.  The Netherlands asked what more the High Commissioner could do to monitor and improve the human rights situation.  Spain said there were still very great challenges in the area of human rights in Libya, with indiscriminate attacks by armed militias.  Progress in the political process was welcomed, as was the appointment of the Special Rapporteur and the Plan of Action which had as its baseline the Libyan Political Agreement.  Egypt said the Libyan crisis was going through a sensitive stage, especially with the existence of terrorist groups attempting to undermine the situation.  The Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should provide support to the Libyan Government to realize the aspirations of the Libyan people to stability.

Bahrain welcomed the liberation of a number of cities from terrorist groups, and said more support was needed to eliminate illegal armed gangs and transnational criminal organizations which had impeded progress.  Bahrain called for the international community to continue providing support, especially technical assistance to assist Libyan society to build vibrant institutions.  Italy welcomed developments in the intra-Libyan political dialogue and praised the efforts of Libyan institutions to preserve the sovereignty, integrity and unity of Libya.  Italy encouraged the Libyan authorities to pursue efforts to provide accountability for human rights violations.  United States expressed deep concern at reports of killings by a high-ranking member of the Libyan National Army in Benghazi, adding that those responsible must be held to account.  The Libyan Political Agreement remained the framework for a political solution to the conflict and a peaceful transition.

Tunisia thanked the Deputy High Commissioner for her oral update.  Tunisia was committed to support Libya in this transitional period with respect for the sovereignty of the State and without any foreign interference.  The international community should take responsibility in the face of the situation and take all steps to bring views together to promote the best interests of the Libyan people.  China said that the turmoil in Libya had negatively affected civilians in the country and threatened the region as a whole.  China had provided humanitarian assistance to Libya in order to mitigate the humanitarian crisis.  It was important to reach a United Nations-led political solution and to strengthen counter terrorism cooperation with Libya.  Portugal was deeply worried about the serious human rights violations and abuses which continued to occur in Libya.  The situation of migrants and refugees was particularly appalling.  Portugal reiterated the inalienable right of all human beings not to be deported under any circumstances to a place where they faced the likelihood of torture.

United Kingdom remained deeply concerned about the continuing human rights violations and abuses committed with impunity across Libya, including against migrants.  Clearly, there was no military solution to the situation in Libya and the people of the country deserved a peaceful and stable future.  Turkey supported a political solution in Libya based on an inclusive dialogue and reconciliation.  Turkey welcomed the warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court last August against a senior Libyan military commander suspected of involvement in the deaths of 33 people in Benghazi.  Jordan appreciated the efforts deployed by the international community in order to provide technical assistance to Libya.  Jordan reiterated its full support to the Presidential Council of Libya and stressed the need to unify all Libyan stakeholders in order to reach a fruitful agreement.

Hungary voiced grave concern about the deteriorating security, economic and human rights situation in Libya, and about the increasing possibility of the country’s disintegration.  The flow of migrants continued to pose great challenges and thus the international community needed to strengthen its engagement in the central Mediterranean.  Malta stated that the protracted impasse in Libya had generated much suffering among Libyan nationals.  The wellbeing of the Libyan people should be prioritised by both the Libyan Government and the international community.  Ireland reiterated its strong support for efforts towards an inclusive, Libyan-led political solution.  It expressed its deep concern at the grave and deteriorating human rights situation in the country, particularly at the ill-treatment of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons. 

Algeria stated that the crisis in Libya required more tangible international cooperation and solidarity in order to achieve a political solution supported by Libyans themselves.  Algeria supported Libya’s efforts to face its security challenges caused by terrorist activities and criminal groups.  Mali reiterated its support for the territorial integrity of Libya and its support for the implementation of the Libyan Political Accord.  It strongly condemned the proliferation of indiscriminate attacks in the country by armed groups.  United Arab Emirates supported all international and regional efforts to achieve national consensus and to restore peace and security in Libya.  A solution would only be successful if it was based on dialogue among Libyans.  Ukraine commended developments in Libya, but acknowledged that justice and the rule of law were key elements needed in the country.  Four Ukrainians had been kept in custody for years, and Libyan law required civilian detainees to be transferred to civilian authorities.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies expressed deep concern at agreements entered into which empowered the Libyan State to violate international standards guaranteeing the human rights of migrants.  European States should not escape their international obligations to protect migrants, and Special Procedures were called on to visit Libya.  Human Rights Watch said human rights conditions in Libya continued to deteriorate, noting that migrants and asylum-seekers fleeing conflict and persecution faced horrific abuse by guards, militias, smugglers and coast guard forces.  The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights was asked what concrete recommendations it would make to the Human Rights Council for an instrument for public documentation of the most serious crimes and human rights violations by all sides.  Amnesty International said militias and armed groups on all sides were responsible for violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.  The Human Rights Council was called on to consider creating an Independent Expert on Libya to monitor and report on the human rights situation and progress towards accountability.

Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle called on the Human Rights Council to demand from the Government of National Accord and the House of Representatives that they immediately reign in the militias that they supported.  The Council was further called on to demand the immediate lifting of the siege on the city of Derna.  Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme said the authorities of Libya did not have the capacity to secure the fragmented country.  The Security Council was called on to adopt an embargo on arms transfers to Libya.  Article 19 – The International Centre against Censorship said the lives of 27 Libyan writers were in danger following accusations of writing things which were “contrary to public morals”, which led to death threats, persecution and intimidation.  Libya was called on to comply with its obligations under international law to guarantee the right to freedom of expression.

Concluding Remarks

KATE GILMORE, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, thanked all representatives for their interaction with the update.  She welcomed the will expressed by the representative of Libya to tackle impunity.  The illegal circulation of arms and armed groups was undermining the efforts to install peace and security.  She welcomed the commitment to the re-establishment of the rule of law made by the Presidential Council.   The international community should continue to provide technical assistance to take effective steps towards disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and the establishment of a national army.  In order to reach success, peace should matter more to all parties since there were only political and no military solutions to the crisis in Libya.  Dialogue must deepen to advance towards peace. 

The main challenge that should be addressed was the absence of relevant mechanisms to ensure the protection of civilians and remedies for victims.  Perpetrators of violations often benefitted from the fact that there would be no consequences to their crimes.  Transforming the situation of the country would not be easy, but practical steps could be taken.  The Presidency Council should prioritize the demobilization process as well as the strengthening of the justice sector.  Justice must also be extended to protect the inalienable rights of migrants who were victims of grave human rights violations both on land and at sea.  Significantly, among the migrants interviewed in Italy, many had made more than one passage to Europe.  Their interception and detention did not deter their desperate efforts.  Returning people to detention centres where they faced gross violations of human rights was a breach of international law and the principle of non-refoulement.  In September 2017, Médecins sans Frontières had published a letter describing the horrible conditions in detention centres.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights fully shared the disgust at the situation.  Ms. Gilmore welcomed the fact that there was an increase in the return of internally displaced persons, and was pleased to underline that the Presidential Council had indicated that this represented a priority issue.  The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights finally reiterated that information gathering and documentation had a critical role to play in the transitional process.  

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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