Libya is a parliamentary democracy with a temporary Constitutional Declaration that allows for the exercise of a full range of political, civil, and judicial rights. Following the fall of Qadhafi’s regime in 2011, the National Transitional Council (NTC) oversaw a free and fair election in July 2012 and handed power to an elected parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), in August 2012. The General National Congress appointed a prime minister in November 2012 to head an interim government. These steps led to the formal establishment of the new “State of Libya” on January 9. The interim government did not maintain effective control over the security forces and did not establish full security control throughout the country by year’s end. Security forces largely composed of disparate militias nominally and intermittently under the authority of the Defense and Interior Ministries committed human rights abuses.
The most serious human rights problems during the year resulted from the absence of effective justice and security institutions. Consequences of the failure of the rule of law included arbitrary and unlawful killings, including politically motivated killings by groups outside or only nominally under government control; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; and harsh and life-threatening conditions in (sometimes illegal) detention and prison facilities.
Other important human rights abuses included arbitrary arrest and detention; lengthy pretrial detention; denial of a fair public trial; an ineffective judicial system staffed by intimidated judicial authorities; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; use of excessive force and other abuses in internal conflicts; localized restrictions on humanitarian aid to civilians; limits on the freedoms of speech and press, including violence against and harassment of journalists; restrictions on freedom of religion; abuses of internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, and migrants; corruption and lack of transparency in government; social discrimination against and societal abuse of women and ethnic and racial minorities, including foreign workers; legal and social discrimination based on sexual orientation; trafficking in persons; killings related to societal violence; and violations of labor rights, including forced labor.
Impunity was a serious problem. The scarcely functioning criminal courts struggled to try abusive Qadhafi-era officials, but generally skirted the pressing problem of abuses during the year by post-Qadhafi militias, in part because of militia intimidation of judges. When authorities did attempt to conduct trials, threats and acts of violence often influenced and curtailed judicial proceedings. Aside from adopting but not yet implementing legislation to provide a new legal framework and sponsoring dialogues on its implementation throughout the country, the government did not take concrete steps by year’s end to advance transitional justice. There were rare investigations and still fewer prosecutions of those believed to have committed abuses.
The militias that spearheaded Qadhafi’s overthrow continued to fill a security vacuum in many parts of the country, often where they had their tribal roots, and were only nominally under government authority. They varied widely in their makeup and degree of responsiveness to the authority of the state, violated human rights and humanitarian norms, and committed unlawful killings, physical violence, and other abuses. The state failed to develop an ability to control such militia groups, even where they were formally or quasiformally under state control, or to prosecute human rights abuses that they committed.