UN Human Rights Council orders probe of abuses in Libya since 2016

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The UN Human Rights Council on Monday adopted a resolution ordering a “fact-finding mission” to Libya in order to document violations and abuses committed in the conflict-torn country since 2016.

The United Nations’ top rights body adopted the resolution without a vote, “strongly (condemning) all acts of violence in Libya,” and urging UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to “immediately establish and dispatch a fact-finding mission” to the country.

Tamim Baiou, Libya’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said he hoped the resolution would show that “impunity will no longer be tolerated” in the country.

“We hope this will be a turning point,” he told the council before the text was adopted by consensus.

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The draft resolution was tabled in March by a group of African countries, but the UN’s top rights body was forced to suspend its main annual session for three months due to the coronavirus crisis, postponing a vote by the 47-member council until Monday.

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The council’s 43rd session resumed last week after Switzerland relaxed the measures imposed to halt the spread of COVID-19, and concluded Monday with the Libya resolution the last adopted during the session.

The resolution expressed “concern” at reports of “torture, sexual and gender-based violence and harsh conditions in prisons and detention centers.”

The fact-finding mission experts will be called on, over the next year, to “document alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by all parties in Libya since the beginning of 2016,” the text said.

It called on the experts to present an oral update on their progress to the council in September, followed by a written report next March.

Oil-rich Libya has been torn by violence, drawing in tribal militias, extremists and mercenaries since the 2011 toppling and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a Western-backed uprising.

Since 2015, a power struggle has pitted the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord against Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who claims legitimacy from an eastern-based elected parliament.