A newly published UN report has documented widespread violations and abuses committed in Libya since the beginning of 2014, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
An investigation by six U.N. human rights officers compiled evidence of executions of captives, assassinations of prominent women activists, widespread torture, sexual crimes, abductions, indiscriminate military attacks on civilian areas, and abuse of children since the start of 2014, the prince explained.
The report recommended urgent measures to fight against impunity, strengthen and reform the justice sector.
Despite the human rights situation in Libya, the country only sporadically makes the headlines. A multitude of actors, both State and non-State, are accused of very serious violations and abuses that may, in many cases, amount to war crimes, the UN commissioner added in a statement.
Since 2014, many attacks appear to have been indiscriminate in nature, impacting in particular on highly populated residential areas, including in Benghazi, Tripoli, Warshafana, the Nafusa Mountains area, and in the south of Libya. Sufficient precautions have not been taken to protect civilians as well as people and objects given protection under international humanitarian law, including health facilities, ambulances, medical and humanitarian workers.
The use of torture is widespread in the country, the statement added, especially in detention facilities, with reports of beatings with plastic pipes or electrical cables, prolonged suspension in stress positions, solitary confinement, electrocution, deprivation of adequate food or water, threats of a sexual nature and extortion. Torture has resulted in the death of detainees in various detention places, including several military police and military intelligence facilities.
Since the 2011 armed conflict, thousands of individuals remain in detention, the vast majority without any proper examination of their cases. Some have been held in secret or unrecognized facilities operated by armed groups. Given the limited functioning of courts, there has been little recourse to judicial review of the legality of these detentions and, even when available, court orders of release have not always been implemented.
"One of the most striking elements of this report lies in the complete impunity which continues to prevail in Libya and the systemic failures of the justice system," Prince Zeid said.
"This report clearly shows that the justice system does not have the means or capacity to conduct prompt, independent and credible investigations or to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations or abuses," the High Commissioner confirmed.
Since 2014, judges and prosecutors have been subject to killings, court bombings, assaults and abductions.
The report further called on the international community to ensure that the International Criminal Court, which has jurisdiction over Libya, has the necessary resources to carry out its investigations and prosecutions.