Libyan National Transitional Council pledges full cooperation with Commission of Inquiry
Friday, 23 September 2011 10:09


On 19 September 2011 the Human Rights Council (the Council) held an interactive dialogue under item 4 with Judge Philippe Kirsch, a member of the Commission of Inquiry on Libya. Despite the significant changes in Libya since June, the debate did not add much new information to what had been discussed during the 17th regular session in June. Substantive dialogue was generally avoided as most States used their allotted time to express their support for the new Libya. Several States called for Libya’s full membership rights at the Council to be reinstated.


Speaking before the Council, Mr Kirsch said that there have been significant changes on the ground in Libya since the Commission’s last report to the 17th session of the Council in June, and that most parts of the country are now under the control of the National Transitional Council (NTC). Mr Kirsch noted that the Commission’s report only contained allegations of human rights violations which have yet to be confirmed by the Commission itself due to its lack of presence in the country.


In his briefing to the Council, Mr Kirsch listed numerous alleged human rights violations committed by both pro-Gaddafi forces and by the NTC. Pro-Gaddafi forces are alleged to have arbitrarily detained, kidnapped, and killed civilians. The Commission also received reports of extra-judicial killings by both pro-Gaddafi and by NTC forces. Mr Kirsch summarised a number of allegations of NTC violations against persons of dark-skin in Libya, many of whom have been accused of being pro-Gaddafi mercenaries. According to reports, Mr Kirsch said, a large number of migrant workers from Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Sudan, as well as dark-skinned Libyans, have been arbitrarily arrested by NTC security forces in Tripoli and many have not been brought before judges to review the legality of their detention. Mr Kirsch also mentioned that troops loyal to Gaddafi as well as NTC forces ‘have besieged towns and cities such as Misrata, Tripoli, Sirte, and Bani Walid’, and cut off essential supplies, which has caused considerable hardship to the civilian population. The Commission has recently been unable to send members in to Libya due to the ongoing conflict and due to security concerns. However, Mr Kirsch said that the Commission has received a positive response from the NTC and intends on sending investigators to Tripoli towards the end of September.


Speaking on behalf of Libya, for the first time since the General Assembly’s recognition of the NTC as the country’s representation to the UN, Mohammed Al-Allagi, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Libya, expressed gratitude to the international community for assisting his nation during the ‘dark’ period in Libyan history. Mr Al-Allagi stated that ‘no sensible person can deny there have been human rights violations’ and that the NTC was willing to fully cooperate with the Commission to investigate the alleged violations. Mr Al-Allagi admitted that rebels were responsible for some of the human rights violations but noted that they did not receive orders from the NTC to carry out violations and that they were individual acts. The Minister also acknowledged the human rights violations committed against African migrant workers and dark-skinned Libyans and stated that although Gaddafi hired mercenaries to fight the rebels, this did not mean that people in Libya should be targeted based on race. Mr Al-Allagi called on the international community to continue supporting his country during its transition, and asserted that the new Libya would protect and promote all human rights. Finally, he extended an invitation to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and all special procedures to visit his country.


During the interactive dialogue, a large number of States expressed support to the Libyan people and the NTC,[1] discussing a wide range of topics.


Most of the comments focused on next steps to be taken in Libya and by the international community. The US urged the High Commissioner to send members of the Commission to Libya as soon as possible in wake of the ongoing crisis in the country. Nigeria urged the NTC to take necessary steps to prevent further human rights violations of black Africans accused of being pro-Gaddafi mercenaries. Norway said that while support from the United Nations was crucial in rebuilding the country, the Libyans themselves must ultimately lead the reform process. Several States also called for an immediate end to violence, and encouraged the NTC to begin the process of national reconciliation. Several States, including Morocco, Qatar, Algeria, Egypt, UAE, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Sudan explicitly or in an implied way suggested that Libya’s membership rights in the Human Rights Council should be reinstated soon.


The debate not only focused on the human rights situation in Libya, but also touched on wider political sensitivities. The Russian Federation expressed concern with the ongoing events in Libya and said that this prolonged conflict would have consequences for the entire region. Cuba (on behalf of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua) said that ‘the West’ and NATO had forced regime change in Libya, have used the UN to implement their own agenda, and that NATO had repeatedly ignored calls by the African Union for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Venezuela condemned the use of violence and did not recognise the NTC because it was propped up by foreign intervention.


NGO voices were also somewhat divided. Human Rights Watch said that the motive of the rebellion against Gaddafi was to overcome human rights abuses and the NTC must make sure it upholds this motive. Others implied that the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime by foreign powers goes against the UN Charter.


Italy, Turkey and Belgium made mention of their financial contributions to Libya. India (on behalf of Brazil and South Africa) commended Tunisia and Egypt for accepting Libyan refugees. The European Union, Norway, and the Republic of Korea welcomed the NTC’s comments on giving women a greater role in Libyan society.


In his responses, the Libyan Minister once again expressed his appreciation to those who have recognised his Government’s legitimacy and reiterated the NTC’s desire to protect and promote fundamental human rights.


Mr Kirsch said that the NTC’s commitment to human rights is encouraging. To conclude, Mr Kirsch offered several suggestions. Mr Kirsch noted that the Libyan constitution is currently suspended so he felt it would not be too difficult for the NTC to include international legislation in the domestic framework. He also stressed that the NTC needs to establish full and complete control over all groups working for it to ensure that further human rights violations are not committed. Mr Kirsch called for international assistance to help Libya put national mechanisms in place to address past violations and tackle impunity, including in particular assistance in documenting such past human rights violations. Finally, Mr Kirsch stated the issue of accountability was not studied extensively during the Commission’s first visit to Libya but was an issue to be addressed prior to the end of its mandate.

[1] Italy, Thailand, Switzerland, Japan, Czech Republic, Morocco, Jordan, Vietnam, France, Egypt (on behalf of the Arab Group), Turkey, the European Union, China, Maldives, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Austria, India (on behalf of Brazil and South Africa), the US, Nigeria, Croatia, Mexico, Chile, Spain, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Qatar, Algeria, Egypt, the UAE, Portugal, Indonesia, Iraq, UK, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kuwait, Lebanon, Slovakia, Tunisia, Sudan, Botswana, Republic of Korea. 

Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 10:20
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2019