Libya Must Account for the Missing, Uphold the Rights of Families

Libyan lawyers and other stakeholders, meeting at a seminar in Istanbul, today called on the parties preparing a national dialogue in Libya to make a formal commitment not only to work towards disclosing the fate of missing persons but to conduct investigations and also to safeguard the rights of families.

Legal experts, civil society activists and government representatives from Libya participated in a seminar on Monday and Tuesday on “criminal Procedure and the use of evidence in court-led processes on mass graves and missing persons in Libya”. The seminar, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons, was designed to help Libyan stakeholders develop a legal framework through which the issue of missing persons in Libya can be addressed effectively when the operating environment stabilizes.

Under ICMP auspices, experts from the Netherlands Forensic Institute, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court, the Libyan National Dialogue Preparatory Commission, and the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with Libyan academics, lawyers and activists gave presentations on transitional justice strategies that were first introduced at a preparatory seminar organized by ICMP in The Hague at the beginning of February.

Fadeel Mohammed Atayeb Lameen, Chairman of the Libyan National Dialogue Preparatory Commission, welcomed the seminar’s recommendation highlighting the authorities’ obligations in the field of missing persons. “I think this will be useful to all those who are engaged in the process,” he said. “Dialogue is the last resort for those who are missing, and ICMP has played a positive role engaging the different parties.”

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger noted that ICMP’s Declaration on the Role of States, signed by heads of state from the Western Balkans in August 2014, clearly articulates the responsibility of governments to account for the missing and provide for the welfare of families. “As ICMP we want to encourage the initiative to ensure that the authorities’ obligation to account for the missing – and, importantly, to carry out their obligations to the families of the missing – are incorporated in Libya’s transitional justice settlement,” she said. “This seminar has been a unique opportunity to put forward constructive ideas and we hope that these ideas will make a contribution to the dialogue that is now underway.”