ILAC Report on Libya

From November 16-23, 2011, ILAC conducted pre-assessment mission to Libya.  William Meyer, Chair of ILAC, and Agneta Johansson, ILAC’s Deputy Director, accompanied representatives of the Arab Organization for Human Rights on a combined fact-finding and training mission to Libya in the immediate aftermath of the hostilities. 

Working with the AOHR and representatives of ILAC member Palestinian Center for Human Rights, ILAC traveled throughout northwestern and central Libya to meet with representatives of the judiciary, prosecution, Bar and civil society, as well as the interim leaders of various revolutionary councils.

A primary goal of the ILAC mission was to preliminarily assess the current state of Libyan institutions critical to developing the rule of law, such as the courts, prosecution, and Bar, to determine if assistance by international organizations would be useful to and appreciated by our Libyan colleagues.  Based on our discussions and observations, we came away with the strong sense that a substantial number of Libyans among the revolutionary forces sincerely want to see a democratic Libya based on the rule of law.  However, it was also apparent that, in the aftermath of the Revolution, Libya at present lacks of any sort of centralized national governance or control.  Formal institutions, to the extent that they even existed under the Gaddafi regime, no longer function.  Finally, it was obvious to us that time is of the essence.  Every day of delay causes additional death, suffering and societal polarization.

A second goal of the ILAC mission, given the immediacy of the Revolution and its aftermath, was to probe allegations and counter allegations relating to alleged violations of international law that a free Libya must address.  Accordingly, the joint team visited various sites in Tripoli, Misrata, Zawiya, Sabrata, Zliten, Al-Khoms, Tawourgha, and Sirte to investigate and interview witnesses concerning current conditions, and a variety of alleged incidents involving Gaddafi forces, rebel forces and NATO.  While the report of the AOHR will address many of the team’s specific observations, the ILAC team confirmed that Libya faces substantial past, present and future human rights issues.

Finally, ILAC participated in intensive training provided by the AOHR for more than 60 Libyan lawyers, judges, prosecutors and members of civil society in human rights law and principles.  The work of the AOHR in this regard, including training provided by personnel from PCHR, was exemplary.  Equally important, the enthusiasm and commitment of large numbers of younger Libyan lawyers and activists confirmed that assistance by international organizations would be useful to and appreciated by those working for a free Libya governed by the rule of law.

Based on these observations, the pre-assessment team recommends to Council that ILAC and its member organizations (a) immediately begin engaging the Libyan legal community concerning rule of law development and reform priorities, and (b) promptly thereafter begin implementing programs to address these priorities.  Toward that end, the pre-assessment team recommends that planning begin immediately to convene a conference of Libyan legal professionals and civil society actors to outline rule their rule of law priorities directly with donors and implementing organizations that can assist with Libya’s transition.  In view of the present absence of effectively functioning national rule of law structures, the pre-assessment team recommends that this conference focus on local Bar and civil society activists, who have demonstrated a commitment to and willingness to work for the establishment of the rule of law.

The pre-assessment team further recommends that Council authorize the preparation of a needs assessment mission, to travel to Libya shortly after the conclusion of the conference.  This mission will work with Libyan stakeholders to plan the detailed implementation of programs outlined at the conference.  In addition, the needs assessment mission will examine the progress made in establishing effectively functioning national rule of law structures in Libya, and make further recommendations to Council regarding any additional assistance that may be useful in that regard.