Our commitment to provide routes to justice to migrants and asylum-seekers who experienced abuses and human rights violations in Libya has continued as strong as ever over the last few months. We were actively involved in advocacy and awareness-raising efforts, and also engaged consistently with our Libyan partners to keep pursuing justice for migrants in Libya through national regional and international channels.
In October, we submitted a report as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a United Nations mechanism aiming at assessing the human rights situation within countries. Within this mechanism, civil society organisations are invited to provide their input and recommendations to improve the record of human rights in the countries under review.
Following up on LFJL’s participation in Italy’s UPR in May to highlight the Italian migration policies endangering the human rights of migrants in Libya, LFJL and its partners from Libyan civil society submitted a report as part of Libya’s upcoming UPR in May 2020. This specific submission aimed at assessing the human rights situation in Libya and focused specifically on migration and the mistreatment of migrants by Libyan authorities and armed groups. In our submission, we noted how Libya, rather than honouring the commitments made to protect the rights of migrants and refugees, has instead focused on implementing cooperation agreements with Italy. These agreements, however, have worsened the situation and failed to guarantee the human rights of migrants and refugees being arbitrarily detained, tortured and exploited in Libya. Finally, we gave accounts of grave human rights violations by the Libyan Coast Guard at the expense of migrants at sea and in the transfer to detention centres.
In view of conducting casework with our partners and bringing cases before regional and international human rights jurisdictions, we trained 12 Libyan lawyers and members of Libyan civil society on strategic litigation. The workshop, held earlier this month in Tunis, aimed to train the participants on litigating human rights violations taking place in Libya before human rights mechanisms and on thechallenges and opportunitiesof strategic litigation in reference to enforced disappearance and torture cases.This workshop was part of our effort to engage with and support Libyan civil society organisations to pursue justice internationally, including in relation to violations against migrants and asylum-seekers.
We also continued to work on the enforced disappearances project: LFJL and two of our partners from Libyan civil society attended the 65th ordinary session of the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on 18-23 October 2019 in Banjul, The Gambia. The aim of the mission to the ACHPR was to ensure that the perspectives of Libyan civil society were represented at this forum and that human rights concerns in Libya are addressed at the regional level. We met with some key Commissioners to discuss the migration context in Libya and in particular the human rights situation of migrants and internally displaced persons.
Additionally, one of LFJL’s partners who has been working on human rights and the situation of internally displaced persons from Tawergha, Libya since 2011, took part in a panel on enforced disappearances in Africa organised by REDRESS and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa. The panel, which took place as part of the main session of the ACHPR on 22 October, aimed to provide an understanding of the issue in the African continent and to identify solutions and measures to prevent this practice, including through the adoption of guidelines by the ACHPR. The intervention of LFJL’s partner, who has been subjected to enforced disappearances himself, provided an insight into the practice of enforced disappearances in Libya and the perspectives of victims as well as the challenges they face to obtain truth and justice.
Finally, we raised awareness on the issue of migration through our communications channels. At the beginning of October, we released the final episode of Season 1 of our podcast Libya Matters. We launched Libya Matters in July with the aim of challenging the mainstream international coverage of Libya and highlighting under-reported parts of the Libyan story. In casual conversations intended to bring a candid insight, hosts and guest experts explore issues of justice, human rights, the rule of law and much more.
Given the importance of the issue, we dedicated an episode to raising awareness on migration and detention in Libya. The episode, ‘Outsourcing the Mediterranean’, features Amnesty International’s researcher Matteo de Bellis. This episode delved into the criminalisation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea by European governments, as well as the inhumane arbitrary detention of migrants in Libya. We also challenged popular narratives regarding the migrant “crisis”, the relation between migration and terrorism, and more.
This episode critically and empathetically discussed the increasingly aggressive steps aimed at limiting migrants’ access to Europe, with the hope of highlighting the need for civil society organisations and human rights activists to keep watch on this subject. This episode and the rest of season 1 of Libya Matters can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and all other major platforms.
Based on the UPR reports that we submitted as part of Libya’s UPR we will be conducting some advocacy with UN member states to support our recommendations to Libya in order to improve the rights of migrants. Jointly with a coalition of NGOs we will also continue to push for more accountability in Libya and the establishment of an accountability mechanism to monitor and address human rights violations and hold those responsible to account.
We are also working on cases to be submitted to human rights mechanisms in the coming months. Keep checking our work here for more exciting updates! We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of the project through GlobalGiving, however please don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list to remain updated and follow all of our work across our programmes. Many thanks again, from all the LFJL team, for supporting our work!