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UNSMIL Calls for Addressing Widespread Enforced Disappearances in Libya as Part of a Rights-Based National Reconciliation Process

Today, on the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the United National Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expresses its solidarity with the countless victims of enforced disappearances and missing persons in Libya. The Mission calls on relevant authorities to address enforced disappearances as part of a rights-based national reconciliation process. Families have the right to know the fate of their loved ones and the right justice.

UNSMIL has documented disappearances of perceived political opponents, politically active women and men, human rights defenders, members of parliament, lawyers, and judges as well as migrants and asylum-seekers. Over the years, the whereabouts of thousands of women, men and children remain unknown. Others have been illegally detained and later released while the dead bodies of other missing and disappeared persons have been found in locations throughout Libya, including in mass graves.

“The Mission reiterates that the enforced disappearance of any person, even if they are released, is a serious violation of international human rights and humanitarian law and may amount to a crime against humanity,” said Acting Head of Mission. “Any enforced disappearance puts the victim in an extremely vulnerable position, outside the protection of the law. In many cases documented by UNSMIL, enforced disappearances take place with other grievous human rights abuses, including torture, sexual violence, and extrajudicial executions.

The lack of truth and justice for the missing persons remain a serious human rights concern. All cases of enforced disappearances must be investigated, and perpetrators brought to justice. As impunity for enforced disappearances prevails in Libya, UNSMIL calls on the State of Libya to adopt the 2010 International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance as an indication of its commitment to address this widespread violation.

The Mission further stresses the need to develop a national comprehensive strategy, involving victims’ groups and human rights organisations, to address this scourge. Such a strategy should include measures to identify and close all illegal detention facilities, as well as a national mechanism to respond to and prevent such disappearances and provide redress to victims and their families.

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