Recommendations of the Conference on "Truth and Reconciliation", held in Tripoli on 12-13 Dec 2012
The Conference on Truth and Reconciliation: The Way Forward, held in Tripoli on 12-13 December, brought together Government officials, members of the Fact-Finding and Reconciliation Commission, members of the General National Congress, members of the Council of Wise Men (hukama), representatives from the Ministry of Martyrs and Missing Persons, civil society and victim groups, and individual experts. Participants hailed from throughout Libya.
The conference was facilitated by the United Nations, and members of the international community and international experts also attended, including from South Africa, Peru and Tunisia. The following are the conference recommendations:
- Participants highlighted that Libyans want to move beyond their past and stress their social cohesion and national unity. Reconciliation is an important part of strengthening Libyan democracy and building a new Libya on a sound foundation, based on inclusiveness and respect for human rights. Libya can draw on its Islamic heritage and rich cultural traditions to promote reconciliation.
- Participants agreed that reconciliation is not about revenge, nor about impunity or simple forgiveness of crimes of persons associated with the former regime or relinquishing of rights of the victims. Truth, justice and reparations are essential to reconciliation and concrete steps forward should be identified in these areas. Reconciliation is needed at the national and local levels.
- Participants welcomed the current initiative from the Minister of Justice to pass the new law on transitional justice and urged that this be completed soon. The new law should contain all the components of transitional justice: unlike law no. 4 or 17 it should include criminal justice and institutional reform. The law should contain clear references and definitions, including of "victims" or of "hukama." The process should be independent and should be kept away from politics. The transitional justice process should include women at all stages.
- Truth-seeking is the cornerstone of reconciliation. The Libyan government should ensure that the process is socially dynamic and broad in its approach. The Fact-Finding and Reconciliation Commission should address the root causes of conflict in Libya and should seek to address why the old regime was allowed to function in a way which violated fundamental human rights of the people. The Commissioners should include persons of relevant expertise other than judicial and legal experts, including historians, psychologists and sociologists. It should include women. The process should be victim-centered, drawing from experiences of other countries, including for instance in holding public hearings or writing a final comprehensive report which will constitute a historical record for Libya.
- On truth-seeking, participants commented that there were three distinct phases to consider: (1) the period of the Qadhafi regime, from 1969 until 2011; (2) violations since the Revolution, from 15 February 2011 until the Liberation on 23 October 2011; and (3) violations since the Liberation. Current violations that need addressing include detentions by authorities other than the state, torture, and forced displacement. While it may be appropriate to start with the period of the former regime, all these violations should be included in the process.
- Civil society is a crucial partner in the transitional justice process in general and in truth-seeking in particular. Civil society organizations give direct support to victims and play an important role in monitoring abuses. Some civil society organizations have already done work on documentation that can be used in the TJ process. The hukama can play a direct role in supporting the work of the Fact-Finding and Reconciliation Commission.
- Participants call on the Libyan authorities to display the political will necessary to pursue transitional justice in Libya. In particular, the Libyan government, with assistance from the United Nations, should seek urgently to:
- Improve security and create the conditions for truth-seeking, including in due course through the demobilization and disarmament of brigades who are not part of the state.
- Improve the role of the media, which has the potential for broadening social dialogue and should be encouraged to play a more positive role.
- Assist in developing the performance, capacity and independence of the judiciary.
- Immediately resolve the issue of detainees currently held outside the scope of the law, screen them and release those against whom there is no sufficient evidence, and try those who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes committed by the former regime. Their continued detention poses a challenge to affirming rule of law in Libya and risks turning former victims into perpetrators.
- Create the conditions for return of the displaced persons.
- All victims, including families of missing persons such as the Families of Abu Salim, should not be expected to reconcile without their rights being recognized. This includes their right to truth, justice, reparations, and institutional reform. The following categories of victims should be included
- Missing persons .
- Families of those murdered or killed
- Former political prisoners
- Current detainees
- Victims of torture
- Victims of sexual violence
- Those who suffered disabilities from injury
- Victims of systematic discrimination
- In Libya the concept of reparations for crimes of the past needs additional study and consideration. Reparations should comprise restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, victim satisfaction, and non-repetition. Victims should be consulted on reparations measures.
- Libya will also need to deal with perpetrators through measures in addition to criminal justice. Those who committed violations in the past should be excluded from the security sector or from other public institutions, but criteria for their exclusion should be based on their conduct rather than their affiliation, and in ways that respect their rights to due process. Criteria should include both corruption and human rights violations.
- The new TJ law should be put to a comprehensive dialogue and people ought to be informed of its goals and purposes. This consultation is also important for managing public expectations. The conference recognized the need for more dialogue between the different stakeholders in the reconciliation process, and participants called upon the United Nations to assist in such dialogue.