Renko Verheij, a senior policy officer at the Middle East and North Africa department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, said that “Our overall aim is peace in Libya in the interest of the Netherland and the region as a whole.”
Verheij statement came in a webinar organized by the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor entitled: “Impunity in Libya and the role of the EU and the UN.”
Three other experts in Libyan matters provided their insight on Libya’s impunity in the country and the role of regional and international actors to preserve peace and guarantee the respect of human rights.
A state of instability has prevailed in the Libyan lands since the eruption of protests back in 2011 demanding the overthrow of the Libyan leader Mumar Alqathafi. After the revolution’s success and the leader’s killing, massive civil war swept over the country and killed thousands of innocent people and militants.
The fighting has never stopped, even after elections brought up a new government to power, and the country saw a national split between the democratically elected government and a dissident army leader in Tripoli–Khalifa Hafter.
In his intervention to Euro-Med’s webinar, Timothy Reid, the former Senior Defence Reform Adviser and former Senior DDR Advisor for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) 2012-2013, noted that “there have been many targetings of civilians such as the Military Academy in Tripoli. Some European countries are complicit in human trafficking as they claim they prevent migrants from reaching their shores.
The properties of Libyan civilians have been seized and used by militants. Different mercenary groups came to Libya. One of the areas that does not receive much attention is the role of regional actors such as France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
He added that some regional groups such as the UAE and France have armed and financed Libyan groups and mercenaries.
“In terms of accountability, members of the UN Security Council follow their interests, such as selling weapons. In Libya itself, we have the problem of interference in courts’ work and tribalism,” he added.
Elise Flecher, a Senior Programmes Officer at Lawyers for Justice in Libya, added that “The human rights consequences of violating the arms embargo resulted in targeting civilian infrastructure, such as the bombing of migrant detention centers, which left 52 migrants dead.”
She added that “the conflict has led to people’s displacement, especially around Tripoli and conflict-affected areas.”
“The conflict has impacted human rights defenders, especially women,” she continued as saying, noting that the EU has an ambiguous approach towards Libya.
“Violating the arms embargo is well-documented and have had different consequences, and the EU is one of the most known violators of the arms embargo in Libya,” she concluded.
Vito Todeschini, a Legal Adviser at the Middle East and North Africa Programme of the International Commission of Jurists, started his remarks by saying that “The FFM has the mandate to investigate violations related to international human rights law, which means it could look into crimes in Libya such as arbitrary detention, torture, and crimes committed against migrants and IDPs.”
“It has the mandate to look into crimes committed against humanity.”
He noted that NGOs had created the FFM to investigate human rights violations by armed groups due to the lack of accountability. Still, it is important to note that its investigation is not criminal.”
Todeschini suggested that FFM should contribute to transitional justice by sharing the results of investigations with other bodies investigating crimes. “It can provide accountability for human rights violations committed in Libya. Its documentation and findings can be used before domestic bodies to get reparations for victims and to support the work of the African Union and the ICC.”