Libya reviewed by the UPR
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 15:56


Libya underwent its review by the Working Group on the UPR on 9 November 2010, during which the delegation, headed by Mr Abdulati Alobidi from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attempted to mitigate the criticism it received regarding its human rights and demonstrate some improvements.


In his opening remarks, the head of delegation reiterated information contained in the national report and provided mainly broad answers to the written questions submitted in advance by States. He adopted a defensive approach in responding to allegations of human rights violations arguing that the appropriate legislation and judicial safeguards were in place. Mr Alobidi challenged Human Rights Watch to visit Libya to see for itself that alleged discrimination against the Toubou minority does not exist. The employment of women in senior positions was highlighted as achievements, while the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation was put forward as one of the most important NGOs in the country. Libya announced the creation of a National Human Rights Committee with many of the responsibilities set forth in the Paris Principle.


In response to written questions about the practice of criminalising media workers for producing work that is critical of the State, Libya argued that the right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the constitution and that the current press law would soon be amended to resolve the pending issues. He also explained that basic laws would have supremacy over Shariah or other religious laws. On the issue of torture and ill-treatment, he insisted this was prohibited in Libya and that the existing system for investigating and prosecuting such acts rendered all further measures unnecessary.

The review of Libya saw an overwhelming number of friendly States making primarily positive remarks. These States[1] praised Libya, in particular for achieving its Millennium Development Goals in enrolment of children in free basic education, the creation of a National Human Rights Committee, for the passing of a law granting women married to foreign spouses the right to pass their nationality to their child, and more generally for having made ‘remarkable’ economic and social progress[2] and for being party to a number of international human rights instruments.


However, some more critical States were able to raise concerns relating to migration and asylum and voiced concern about forced deportations of illegal migrants without regard for the need to protect refugees and others at risk of abuse on return to their home countries. Other major concerns included the restriction of freedom of expression, reports of torture and ill-treatment in detention centres and prisons and enforced disappearances, the continued use by Libyan courts of the death penalty, and restrictions on women’s rights under Shariah law.

Key recommendations by States included:

  • Enhance respect for freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Adopt domestic legislation to abolish practices of torture
  • Investigate all alleged enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention, prosecute perpetrators and accede to the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPED)
  • Establish a moratorium on executions with a view to fully abolishing the death penalty
  • Accede to international refugee protection instruments
  • Guarantee the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers
  • Ensure equality for women in law and practice and amend discriminatory legal provisions as recommended by CEDAW
  • Release findings into the 1996 Abu Salim Prison killings[3]
  • Ensure that security forces are subject to legal oversight and operate in compliance with international human rights standards

Libya accepted 66 and rejected 25 of the 120 recommendations put to it. The remaining 26 recommendations left pending related to efforts to eliminate stereotypes regarding the role of women in society, abolishing the death penalty and bringing its press law in line with international standards, on which it will provide responses by the 16th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2011.


Libya’s presence at the UPR was used by some Swiss journalists as an opportunity to inquire about two Swiss nationals held in Libyan custody for almost a year and of the prevalence of torture. The delegation insisted the Government did not endorse the use of torture.

[1] Algeria, Quatar, Sudan, Syria, Korea, Bahrain, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Jordan, Cuba, Oman, Egypt, Malta, Malaysia, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Belarus, Chad, Saudi Arabia.

[2] Brazil.

[3] Australia, UK.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 November 2010 15:56
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