Latest Update: 31 March 2013
The political transition in Libya continues to face considerable challenges, with security issues posing the biggest threat to progress. The General National Congress (GNC) has begun to make some key decisions, including passing the 2013 Budget, which includes significant investment in reconstruction and development. Libya presented its plans to develop security, justice and rule of law at an international Ministerial meeting in Paris in February. International partners, including the UK, confirmed ongoing support to Libya in these areas.
On human rights, progress remains slow in transferring non state-run detention centres to state control. The Ministry of Justice is building a new prison in Misrata which will be used to hold detainees currently being held by the thuwaar, or semi-official armed groups, in and around Misrata. Concerns remain about the treatment of detainees and NGOs continue to document human rights abuses. At the request of the Minister of Justice a UK Detention Adviser will begin his role on 1 May, focusing on improving the conditions and management of detention centres.
The courts continue to deal with minor felonies and most individuals arrested post-revolution have access to lawyers. However, the overwhelming majority of individuals detained during the revolution have still not been processed through the judicial system. The draft Transitional Justice Law is before the General National Congress, which should pave the way for trials of conflict related detainees to begin. The Ministry of Justice has also begun to implement small scale screening projects in a few state run detention centres to determine why individual detainees have been held.
Freedom of religion remains a concern. On 29 December a bomb exploded outside the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church in Misrata and killed two people. A number of Christians accused of proselytising have also been arrested in Benghazi by the Preventative Security Forces. Many have been released and deported back to their country of origin but a number remain in detention. On 28 March a Sufi Shrine was destroyed in Tripoli.
Women’s groups continue to play an important role in civil society despite the challenges they face. On 8 March women across Libya, including members of the General National Congress, celebrated International Women’s day. Many women’s organisations have also launched campaigns to ensure that women’s rights are reflected in the new constitution. However there are still concerns about the number of women who are victims of sexual and domestic violence and women’s access to medical services, particularly in rural regions.
The security situation in Libya remains precarious. Efforts have been made by the Libyan Government to integrate the thuwaar into the police and army, but a large number remain outside governmental control. On 5 March an armed group attacked the GNC at their offices for several hours demanding that they sign the draft law on Political Isolation and on 31 March an armed group stormed the Ministry of Justice. Abductions and extrajudicial killings continue to take place.