Libya is a parliamentary democracy with a temporary Constitutional Declaration allowing for the exercise of a full range of political, civil, and judicial rights. Citizens elected the House of Representatives (HoR) in free and fair elections in June 2014. The outbreak of major political violence later that year led to the loss of central government control over much of the country’s territory and the emergence of rival administrations based in Tripoli and in the eastern city of Tobruk. The Tobruk-based, internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni did not maintain effective control of government forces or allied militias.
Conflict between the Tobruk-based HoR and the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) continued throughout the year. Active fighting between the HoR-aligned Operation Dignity forces and GNC-aligned Operation Dawn forces remained a source of instability.
On December 17, members of the UN-led Political Dialogue signed a political agreement in Skhirat, Morocco. The Libyan Political Agreement created a nine-member Presidency Council, headed by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj. The Government of National Accord formation process was expected to occur in 2016.
During the year violent extremist organizations expanded their influence, controlling large sections of territory in the eastern part of the country. Additionally, terrorist groups such as Ansar al-Sharia Da’esh conducted targeted killings, kidnappings, and suicide bombings that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and officials, primarily in the areas around Benghazi, Sirte, and Derna. Da’esh effectively controlled Sirte for most of the year. Derna remained under the control of designated terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia and other Islamist militants, who were responsible for extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations.
The most serious human rights problems during the year resulted from the absence of effective governance, justice, and security institutions, and abuses and violations committed by armed groups affiliated with the government, its opponents, terrorists, and criminal groups. Consequences of the failure of the rule of law included arbitrary and unlawful killings and impunity for these crimes, including killings of politicians and human rights defenders, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and harsh and life-threatening conditions in detention and prison facilities.
Other human rights abuses included arbitrary arrest and detention; lengthy pretrial detention; denial of fair public trial; an ineffective judicial system staffed by officials subject to intimidation; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; use of excessive force and other abuses in internal conflicts; limits on the freedoms of speech and press, including violence against, and harassment of, journalists; restrictions on freedom of religion; abuses of internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrants; corruption and lack of transparency in government; violence and social discrimination against women and ethnic and racial minorities, including foreign workers; trafficking in persons; legal and social discrimination based on sexual orientation; and violations of labor rights, including forced labor.
Impunity was a severe and pervasive problem. The government did not take steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish those who committed abuses and violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government. Intimidation, by militias and other armed actors, resulted in paralysis of the judicial system, impeding the investigation and prosecution of those believed to have committed human rights abuses, including against public figures and human rights defenders. When authorities attempted to conduct trials, threats and acts of violence often influenced and curtailed judicial proceedings. Despite well-publicized abuses such as killings, there were no reports of investigations of government officials or security forces leading to indictment and prosecutions in the country.
Government officials regularly justified the activities of extralegal armed groups as necessary to “combat terrorism.” Extralegal armed groups continued to fill a security vacuum across the country. They varied widely in their makeup and responsiveness to the state, violated human rights and humanitarian norms, and committed unlawful killings and other abuses. Both the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk and its competitor for power, the administration in Tripoli, failed to control such groups, even those that were nominally under state control, or to prosecute human rights abuses committed by militias. After the outbreak of major conflict in 2014, the government continued to pay the salaries of militias affiliated with both sides.