HRW criticizes Libya for lawlessness and impunity for local militias

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Sunday criticized [press release] Libya for ongoing lawlessness and impunity for the militias responsible for the systematic executions of Muammar Gaddafi [JURIST backgrounder] and his supporters. HRW further urged the Libyan government and its international allies to create and support a law-abiding state security force and an impartial justice system which applies the law “no matter who the victim and who the perpetrator.” Earlier this month HRW requested [JURIST report] that Libya instate a moratorium on capital punishment because of the widespread disarray in the Libyan judicial system.

During the period of time now referred to as “the Arab Spring,” countries across the Middle East erupted in protests from citizens demanding an end to oppressive regimes and the beginning of true democracies in their nations. The pro-democracy protests began in Tunisia [JURIST news archive] and spread quickly to Egypt [JURIST backgrounder] and on to Libya and other nations. The recent death sentences come amid debate between the UN and Libya over the proper venue to try Gaddafi-era officials. Libya remains in conflict [JURIST report] with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] over the trial of Gaddafi’s son and the efficacy and fairness of trying him in a Libyan court.


Libya prosecutors to try Gaddafi son, spy chief for murder

[JURIST] Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the son of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] was charged on Tuesday with murder, relating to the 2011 Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder], a Libyan prosecutor said. Prosecutors also charged former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] with murder. If convicted, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for his alleged role in murdering civilians during the 2011 uprising. According to prosecutors, al-Senussi confessed to collaborating to produce car bombs [AP report] in Benghazi during the uprising. The trial for Gaddafi and al-Senussi is scheduled to begin September 19.

Al-Senussi and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi also face charges of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. In July the ICC rejected Libya’s request [JURIST report] to suspend the order to hand over Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. In June Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s lawyer accused Libyan officials [JURIST report] of defying the ICC by announcing that Saif al-Islam’s trial would begin in August. In February the ICC ordered Libya to extradite al-Senussi [JURIST report] to face charges of crimes against humanity for his role in the 2011 uprising.


DOJ files first criminal charges in attack on US diplomatic mission in Libya

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Endia Vereen at 11:44 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Tuesday filed criminal charges in the deadly attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. The sealed complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] against an unspecified number of individuals. The charges are the first filed in connection with the September 2012 attack [Libya Herald report] on the US embassy and the death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. An anonymous official said that those charged included Ahmed Abu Khattala, the head of the Libyan militia group, Ansar Al-Sharia, which has also been linked to the raid. The group agreed to disband [Libya Herald report] and four of its members were arrested after the attacks under suspicion of being involved in the raid.

Republicans in Congress have condemned the Obama administration’s handling of the matter, criticizing the level of embassy security and questioning the talking points provided to UN Ambassador Susan Rice for her public explanation of the attack. Conservatives have suggested that the White House tried to play down the incident to minimize its effect on the president’s campaign. DOJ spokesman Andrew Ames commented that “the department’s investigation is ongoing. It has been, and remains, a top priority.”


UN urges Libya to include women in drafting constitution

Alison Sacriponte at 9:24 AM ET

[JURIST] The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) [official website] called [press release] Wednesday for the participation of Libyan women in the Constitution Drafting Assembly. The UNSMIL noted that the preparation and drafting of the constitution is a significant part of Libya’s democratic transition, and the representation and participation of women throughout the process will greatly contribute to the growth of the country. Libyan women had a significant role in the February 2011 revolution and participated in Libya’s first free elections in over four decades. As elections for the Constitution Drafting Assembly approach, the UN is stressing how important the participation of women is in rebuilding the nation. For the elections last year, special measures were adopted to allow 32 women to win seats in the parliament. These special measures, such as quotas, have greatly contributed to women’s representation in public life and are on par with international standards and obligations.

Ongoing efforts in Libya continue trying to ensure a properly-functioning justice system and promote reconciliation after the 2011 conflict. In March Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged [JURIST report] the Libya government to ensure the protection of civilians. The trial [JURIST report] of 40 former Libyan officials began earlier in March, in al-Zawiya. The charges included inciting the killing of protesters during the revolution, wasting public funds, embezzlement and abuse of power. In February the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] called on Libya [JURIST report] to extradite former Gaddafi intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.