The human rights situation in Libya remained a serious concern in 2016. Although the signature of the Libyan Political Agreement in December 2015 led to the formation of a Government of National Accord and Presidency Council in Tripoli in March, ongoing conflict and armed groups acting with impunity continued to impact on the civilian population, as well as crimes by Daesh; intimidation and attacks on journalists and human rights defenders; arbitrary detentions and summary executions. There were grave concerns over abuses of migrants by militia groups as they attempted to transit Libya. Conditions in migrant detention camps were a particular concern.
Reports by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and NGOs including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, documented that armed groups from all parties of the conflict disregarded international norms for civilian protection and committed violations and abuses of human rights, including abductions, extrajudicial executions, unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment. In most of the country, the judicial system was unable to bring those responsible to justice. There were also frequent reports of intimidation, detentions and assassinations by all parties. The findings of an investigation by the OHCHR underlined the seriousness of the situation to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) during its 31st session in March 2016. During this session, the UK co-sponsored a new HRC Resolution on Libya, which commits Libya to implement recommendations stemming from the OHCHR investigation and requested follow-up assessments by OHCHR. The UK noted with concern that the Libyan authorities had limited capacity to investigate human rights violations and abuses and bring perpetrators to justice.
On 27 September, Martin Kobler, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General to Libya updated the Human Rights Council in Geneva on the situation, reflecting that little or no improvements had been made.
The UK continued to work in support of a sustainable political settlement under the framework of the Libyan Political Agreement, resulting in a stable and inclusive government able to meet the needs of the Libyan people and contribute to wider regional stability and security. We worked closely with international partners, including in the region, the EU, and the UN in pursuit of this objective.
Through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, the UK has funded programmes in Libya to support peace mediation and local level stability, women’s rights, civil society and freedom of speech. The UK has provided humanitarian support to people affected by the conflict, including supplies and technical support to medical centres, assistance to those who have been forced to flee their homes, and support to migrants held in detention. We continued to encourage the Libyan Government of National Accord to prioritise respect for universal human rights, especially the most vulnerable such as migrants and minority groups.
During 2017, we will continue to raise our concerns with the Libyan authorities in public and in private, and through international mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Council. We will explore further options for programmatic interventions to improve the human rights situation in Libya.