International Human Rights Day: Human Rights are critical for the success of the political process

10 Dec 2023

International Human Rights Day: Human Rights are critical for the success of the political process

TRIPOLI, 10 December 2023: As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) reiterates its call for human rights to be protected and promoted as an enabler for Libya’s democratic transformation.

The Mission is concerned that the continuing crackdown on civic space and arbitrary detentions create a climate of fear across Libya, undermining the free and open space required for political dialogue, rights-based reconciliation, and inclusive and transparent elections. “A thriving civic space where Libyans engage through dialogue, dissent, and mutual understanding is critical for the political process,” said Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNSMIL, Abdoulaye Bathily.

While noting that the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration are under threat globally, Special Representative Bathily stressed that “now more than ever we need to work together to safeguard the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration” adding that “Libyan civil society actors and human rights defenders – who embody these very values – must be supported, protected and empowered to carry out their work in safety and dignity”.

Over the last nine months, UNSMIL has documented dozens of cases of arbitrary arrests and detention of men, women and children by security actors operating throughout Libya. These detentions violate Libya’s national laws and international obligations and are politically motivated with all individuals held for their actual or perceived political affiliation.

“Members of political parties, academics, and activists continue to languish in detention in Tripoli, Benghazi, and Sirte without access to justice. They must be immediately and unconditionally released”, stated Special Representative Bathily. 

The Mission is alarmed that politically active Libyans face threats, harassment, hate speech, violence, and illegal arrest. The Mission calls on Libyan authorities at all levels to protect the rights to freedom of speech and expression and end the widespread practice of arbitrary arrests and detention.

Academics, journalists, civil society actors and politically active individuals raise awareness about the political process and elections, they safeguard the openness and transparency of the process, and ensure the effective engagement of women, youth, marginalised and disadvantaged groups. “Stifling their work, silencing them, and fostering a climate of fear undermines the foundations required for Libya’s democratic transition, emboldens the spoilers, and enables security actors in particular to perpetrate human rights violations with impunity. This must end”, said Special Representative Bathily.

Libya is at a critical juncture. As Special Representative Bathily continues his efforts to bring key parties together to agree on a political settlement to take the country to elections, UNSMIL reminds all parties that human rights and the rule of law must be the driving force for Libya’s future.