|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6728th Meeting (AM)
Anniversary of Revolution in Libya Celebrated Peacefully; Clear ‘People Are Eager
to Move Forward with the Transition to Democracy’, Security Council Told
UN’s Top Envoy Ian Martin Briefs, Says People Expect UN Support in Transition;
Describes Progress on Elections, Security, Human Rights, Humanitarian Concerns
Reporting the peaceful celebration of the first anniversary of the start of Libya’s revolution and progress in the country on elections, security, human rights and humanitarian concerns, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya presented a hopeful picture of Libya’s future to the Security Council this morning.
“It is clear that the Libyan people are eager to move forward with the transition to democracy, and their most central expectation of the United Nations is that we will support them in doing so”, Ian Martin, who is also the head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said in a briefing that also heard a report from Portuguese representative José Filipe Moraes Cabral, head of the Libya sanctions committee, and the representative of Libya, Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham.
Mr. Martin welcomed, in particular, the 28 February adoption of a national electoral law, with 120 seats to be elected by majority votes in races for individual candidates and 80 seats to be elected through proportional races for parties and other groups. While UNSMIL found that compromise reasonable, he said that there were still some shortcomings in inclusiveness; for example, members of the Armed Forces were excluded from voting and the law lacked measures to ensure the participation of displaced persons. He welcomed the “modest” formula to ensure the participation of women, following the urging of UNSMIL, in the proportional races.
Despite delays in developing the law, which Mr. Martin found understandable given the complexities, he said that the National Transitional Council had publicly confirmed its intention to hold elections according to the timeline envisaged in the Constitutional Declaration. He stressed that, in order for that to happen, activities to implement the legal framework must “begin immediately and progress swiftly”. The newly sworn-in national electoral commissioners had quickly commenced work and confirmed high expectations for UNSMIL’s assistance. In response, the United Nations was strengthening its advisory role within the Commission, launching support to voter education and coordinating the assistance of other international actors.
Meanwhile, the election of a local council in Misrata on 20 February had received approval from other municipalities, showing the determination of communities to establish the legitimacy of local representation, he said.
Turning to security, he said that there was appreciable progress in State authority over the revolutionary brigades, including the establishment of local security committees under the direction of the Ministry of Interior and the transfer of control of infrastructure to that Ministry. He added that, contrary to some media portrayals, the brigades continued to perform important functions and there was little indication that they wished to perpetuate an existence outside State authority.
At the same time, registration for ex-combatants was nearing completion, he said; out of the approximately 148,000 registered, approximately 15 per cent appear to be opting to join police forces and an equal number choosing the army. The rest must be afforded civilian reintegration opportunities, which were being developed across several ministries.
Security of borders and cities, weapons proliferation and human rights violations were the other priority security challenges, as expressed in a recent inter-ministerial retreat facilitated by UNSMIL, which developed a priority action plan that included strengthened inter-ministerial coordination in an overarching national security framework. UNSMIL was also coordinating bilateral and multilateral support to meet security challenges, providing advisers to relevant ministries, and supporting police training, logistics, communication and media relations.
UNSMIL and UN agencies have worked together to mitigate the consequences of deadly clashes in recent days between Tabou and Zwaya tribal brigades in the southern city of Kufta. The Government dispatched army units to the area, although it was criticized by some for a too-slow response.
He said that UNSMIL had continued to hold discussions with the Government on reports of deaths, torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. The authorities had issued a policy circular on detainee rights and the Transitional Prime Minister had yesterday addressed the Human Rights Council in Geneva, reiterating the Government’s human rights commitments. “Strong and urgent measures are essential to give effect to these intentions,” he commented, noting that he had stressed the need for an inter-ministerial task force to indentify and inspect all detention locations. Those measures had reportedly begun and UNSMIL itself was visiting facilities and would continue to work closely with authorities to ensure that abuses were investigated and ended.
UNSMIL continued to press for quicker assertion of control by the Ministry of Justice over facilities currently run by brigades, where an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 detainees remained, he said. Progress continued to be complicated by insufficient numbers of judicial police and the need for training of prosecutors, for which the Government had requested assistance, receiving some expressions of willingness from international partners. The court system was slowly coming back into operation, with several courts in Tripoli and Benghazi resuming operations despite security concerns. He welcomed the move from military to civilian courts of criminal proceedings on crimes committed in support of the Qaddafi regime, commenting that it was crucial for full due process to be followed.
He said that UNSMIL had also urged investigations, better protection measures and strengthened rule of law following a 6 February attack on internally displaced Tawerga in a camp in Tripoli by an armed brigade, which resulted in seven deaths, mostly women and children.
Describing a transitional justice law that was made public on 14 February, he said that it did not necessarily reflect best practices elsewhere, but provided “an important opportunity to start a comprehensive truth-seeking process”. A vital part of that effort was the search and identification of missing persons, for which purpose the dedicated ministry had commenced collection of DNA samples and exhumation of mass graves. The Mission had encouraged the engagement of international expertise to help ensure that quick measures did not harm prospects of future identification of remains. The Mission had also proposed the drafting of a legal framework to better safeguard the rights of families of the missing.
On migrants and refugees, he said local and national officials were seeking assistance to humanely address the challenges presented by the increasing numbers of those persons, many of which continue to be detained by various authorities or brigades, often in poor conditions. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) continued to assist them, but was faced with limited access and the absence of secure transit facilities in some areas. Humanitarian actors were providing assistance in the detention facility in Benghazi, where numbers had swollen as a result of transfers from Kufra. Refugees from Syria entering Libya via Egypt were being assisted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Describing a workshop held to help synchronize international support with Government planning, he said that the Government was close to presenting its National Plan with the international community and to putting in place coordination arrangements with the support of UNSMIL and other actors. Finally, previewing his presentation to the Council planned for next week, he said he would mainly be presenting the Secretary-General’s proposals for the role of UNSMIL in the period ahead.
Taking the floor next, Mr. Moraes Cabral, Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011), reported on that body’s work, referring first to a working document put together by the expert panel with contributions from such bodies as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on the threats and challenges of arms proliferation from Libya to the region. A second document was the panel’s final report on implementation of the relevant measures, including the arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze. The Chairman described the Committee’s meetings, noting that up to 9 February, that body had processed a total of 31 notifications or exemption requests concerning the arms embargo and 151 notifications of exemption requests concerning the asset freeze.
In that connection, he said that, since his last periodic report, the Committee had approved one request for an exception and expressed no objection to a second request. Furthermore, no negative decision was taken in relation to 10 notifications that allowed the supply of arms and related materiel of all types intended solely for security or disarmament assistance to the Libyan authorities.
With respect to the asset freeze, no negative decision had been taken in relation to one notification under the basic expenses provision set out in resolution 1970 (2011) and two notifications under resolution 2009 (2011). In four cases, the relevant Member State had been informed that the entity to which the funds belonged had already been de-listed by the Committee. Therefore, the submission of notifications or exemption requests did not apply in relation to that entity.
Also on 9 February, reported the Chairman, the Committee had discussed several requests for guidance or assistance received from Member States, which related to the status of the subsidiaries of the two remaining listed entities, the Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan African Investment Portfolio, noting that those entities were not subject to the asset freeze. The Committee was preparing a general notice on its website on proper application for the asset freeze measure. The Committee had also received an update from the expert panel on the preparation of the working document. Finally, at the request of the relevant Libyan authorities, the Committee had amended an entry of its List of Individuals and Entities subjected to the travel ban and/or asset freeze. To date, the Committee had received reports from 55 Member States.
Finally, Libya’s representative spoke of the struggle for freedom that had erupted across the Arab world, and was still ongoing in Syria. He thanked the Security Council for its attention, declaring there was a new State in Libya today. He said elections in June were not aimed at creating a government or parliament, but were meant to lead to a constitution for a new democratic civic State, as well as rule of law, peace and development, and the well-being of all Libyans.
The Qadhafi regime, he said, had distributed weapons and set the country on fire last year, turning Libyans against Libyans, yet in the people’s solidarity, they had overcome the many problems. For that, he thanked the United Nations and Ian Martin, but said that more was needed. Tens of thousands of people were entering his country daily from southern Sahara, and some leadership elements of the Qadhafi regime still existed in other States, including Tunisia, Egypt, Mali and Niger, and those elements were plotting sabotage and bombings in Tripoli. He appealed to all States for cooperation and for help in bringing those people to justice, as they were a danger to his country.
He said his country was working with the nations of the Sahel and Northern Africa on a unified strategy to combat terrorism in the greater Maghreb, but he appealed to the Council to release the frozen assets to assist Libya in that struggle. His country was working towards transparency and now had a committee for that purpose, as well as “free” newspapers and broadcast stations. Transitional justice measures had also been adopted, and the transitional Government had detained several former ministers and senior officers of the Qadhafi regime. However, there was area outside State control, where there were no police units or courts and, thus, the perpetrators could not be controlled everywhere. The United Nations was needed to ensure the success of the elections in June, as those would be the foundation of a modern democratic State. “We are working seriously and actively for democratic freedom to replace the regime that the Libyan people uprooted with their blood,” he declared.
The meeting began at 10:25 a.m. and ended at 11:05 a.m., at which time Council members were invited into consultations on Libya, as previously agreed.
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