More than seven years after the Libyan revolution, the country remains entrenched in an intricate civil conflict in which armed groups are failing to abide by the laws of armed conflict. The majority of human rights and humanitarian law violations occurring in Libya are committed by militias — acting with differing degrees of autonomy — on behalf of one of the two competing governments, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, and the government based in the eastern cities of al-Bayda and Benghazi under the control of forces headed by Khalifa Haftar.
Operating outside any legal framework, these forces routinely carry out arbitrary arrests, abductions and enforced disappearances as well as torture and extrajudicial executions. Thousands of people are being detained in facilities under the control of the GNA’s Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Defence, as well as those run by militias affiliated with the latter.
Libya’s political fragmentation and the lack of an independent and functioning judiciary renders the prosecution of perpetrators impossible. Accountability remains, therefore, an important issue for the whole country. Lastly, as the European Union is increasingly relying on Libya to limit migrant arrivals to its borders, detention centres have been set up in the country where refugees and migrants aiming to cross the Mediterranean are arbitrarily and indefinitely detained, and exposed to serious human rights violations.