On 10 December, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) called for ‘human rights to be protected and promoted as an enabler for Libya’s democratic transformation.’ UNSMIL expressed concern that ‘the continuing crackdown on civic space and arbitrary detentions create a climate of fear across Libya’. UN Envoy to Libya Abdoulaye Bathily stressed that Libyan civil society actors and human rights defenders ‘must be supported, protected and empowered to carry out their work in safety and dignity’.
Over the last nine months, UNSMIL said it has documented dozens of cases of arbitrary arrests and detention of men, women and children by security actors operating throughout Libya, adding that ‘members of political parties, academics, and activists continue to languish in detention in Tripoli, Benghazi, and Sirte without access to justice.’ Tripoli, Benghazi and Sirte. Bathily called for their immediate and unconditional release. UNSMIL called 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.
The EU also released a statement on 10 December, reaffirming the unwavering dedication of the EU and its Member States to supporting Libya in its efforts to achieve stability and reinforce peace in a rights-based manner. Referring to the tragedy in Derna, it said ‘A transparent, rights-based, national reconstruction platform, spanning geographical and political divides, and backed by accountable financial support for reconstruction, is crucial.’ It noted that ‘Human rights violations and arbitrary detentions and disappearances by groups acting outside any legal framework are an important concern.’ It stressed the importance of preventing future transgressions and said that ‘ensuring the protection of migrants’ right requires a multifaceted approach that addresses detention centres to adhere to international human rights standards and combatting human trafficking by strengthening law enforcement.’