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 eight months of civil war ending with the ouster of the Qadhafi regime in October 2011, the Transitional National Council (TNC) named an interim government in November 2011. After free and fair balloting on July 7, the TNC handed over power to an elected parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), on August 8, and a prime minister was sworn in on November 14. The TNC and later the government had not established full security control throughout the country by year’s end. Militias formerly actively opposed to the Qadhafi regime were affiliated with or integrated into government security forces. They nominally and intermittently reported to civilian authorities but more often acted autonomously, particularly in the eastern part of the country.
Qadhafi’s fall ended an era of systematic, state-sanctioned human rights violations, and several signs indicated that successor governments adopted a positive approach respecting human rights, such as the successful holding of elections in July, the development of a relatively freer press, and the emergence of an active civil society. Nonetheless, some abuses continued, most frequently where the elected government did not control militias. The new authorities lacked the capacity and a basic legal framework to fully protect civil and judicial rights. Qadhafi-era laws that did not contravene the TNC’s 2011 Constitutional Declaration remained in force, but their applicability remained unclear, due to the lack of enforcement capability, lack of competency of the courts, and confusion over the applicability of new and old laws. The legacy of decades of personalized dictatorship, marginalized institutions, an ineffective legal framework, and isolation from the international community severely hindered government efforts to enforce the rule of law.
The most significant human rights problems during the year resulted from the absence of effective justice and security institutions following the collapse of the previous dictatorial regime. There was sporadic violence in some areas, governmental inability to carry out its mandated tasks, and little progress in addressing the former regime’s abuses. Consequently, the new government fell short of establishing a consistent rule of law.
Other important human rights abuses included: arbitrary and unlawful killings, including politically motivated killings by groups outside government control; kidnappings; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; harsh and life-threatening conditions in detention and prison facilities, some of which were illegal; arbitrary arrest and detention; lengthy pretrial detention; denial of 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 and harassment of journalists on several occasions and in certain areas; restrictions on freedom of religion; abuses of internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, and migrants; 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 breaches of labor rights in practice, including forced labor.
Impunity was a serious problem. Although militias detained abusive Qadhafi-era officials, the scarcely functioning criminal courts struggled to try them, and when they did attempt to conduct trials, judges often faced threats of violence. In the same vein, with the judiciary not fully functioning, the government had not taken concrete steps by year’s end to advance transitional justice. There were rarely investigations and still fewer prosecutions of those believed to have committed abuses.
With the disappearance of the authoritarian Qadhafi regime, militias that spearheaded his overthrow filled a security vacuum in many parts of the country. During the year militias and their supporters--at times nominally but not fully under the control of the interim and later the elected government’s authority--violated human rights and humanitarian norms, committing unlawful killings, physical violence, and other abuses. Hostility to real and perceived Qadhafi loyalists permeated the country, the principal targets of which were actual or suspected former Qadhafi soldiers or supporters. Nongovernmental actors, including autonomous militias and armed tribal groups, committed human rights abuses. Disappearances, illegal detentions, and imprisonment of persons on political grounds occurred, as did looting and further violence. Vulnerable civilian populations, including ethnic minorities and migrants, faced ongoing violence and discrimination.