The Libyan Government Before The UN Committee On Economic,
Social And Cultural Rights, 16-17 November 2005
A. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the second periodic report of Libya on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at its 44th to 46th meetings, held on 16 and 17 November 2005. The report was presented by a governmental delegation composed of Abdelhafidh DERBI (head of delegation), Abdelhakim ZAMOUNA, Faiza ALBACHA, Mustapha ALNAIMY and Abdallah Lahbib AMMAR. Libya was portrayed as a country with a high level of prosperity in which people lived in happy harmony and enjoyed full freedom, the delegation not being aware of any human rights violations. According to Mr. Derbi, the press was totally free as there were more than 248 newspapers and magazines; anyone in Libya could access the Internet, over which there was no control; the judiciary was fully independent; trade unions were free and independent and their activities, including the right to strike, were perfectly legal; there were more than 50 NGOs in Libya operating in all fields, of which the delegation mentioned the "Committee for Human Rights in the Era of the Masses" and "waatasimu", an association established and presided over by no other than Colonel Qaddhafi's daughter; unemployment did not, of course, exist in Libya whose annual output of 35,000 university and other graduates were recruited as soon as they completed their studies; wages and salaries were high (the delegation quoted no specific figures); women, minorities and other disadvantaged groups, including immigrants, enjoyed a hitherto unprecedented happy life under Colonel Qaddhafi's rule as equal opportunities were guaranteed to all; the education system was unequalled and the health and social security systems were among the most advanced in the world. This is the manner in which Libya was described by Mr. Derbi and his delegation, but it remains to be seen what conclusions the members of the UN Committee will draw from this unrealistic and deceptive description.
B. Principal Subjects of Concern to the Committee(*)
1. "The Committee notes with concern that the State party has not yet established an independent national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles (General Assembly resolution 48/134).
2. "The Committee regrets that it did not receive clear information about the legislation applicable to the right of everyone to form and join trade unions and other rights spelled out in article 8 of the Covenant, in particular the right to strike. It notes with concern that the Government must approve all collective agreements to ensure that they are in line with the nation’s economic interests, that there is no freedom for trade unions in the State party, and that labour disputes must be referred to a compulsory arbitration procedure".
3. "The Committee regrets that it did not receive sufficient information in relation to the level of unemployment in the State party, the level of minimum wage and the determination procedure of such minimum wage, and on procedures designed to assist unemployed persons, including citizens and migrant workers, in finding employment".
4. "The Committee regrets that insufficient information was provided by the State party on poverty, the housing situation of the population, including migrant workers, homelessness and forced evictions".
5. "The Committee regrets that the State party did not provide sufficient information on measures adopted to introduce human rights education in schools curricula, at primary and secondary levels, and to disseminate the text of the Covenant to the public at large".
6. The Committee is concerned about reports that freedom of access to Internet is severely restricted in the State party".
C. The Committee therefore recommended, inter-alia, that:
1. The Libyan Government "consider establishing an independent national human rights institution, in accordance with the Paris Principles, with a mandate covering all human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights".
2. The Libyan Government "ensure that independent non governmental organizations for the promotion of human rights, including the rights recognized under the Covenant, freely operate in the State party, in conformity with the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms".
3. The State party "provide, in its next report, detailed information, disaggregated by sex, age, nationality, national and ethnic origin, about the level of unemployment in the country. The State party should also provide information on the level of minimum wage and the determination procedure of such minimum wage, and on procedures designed to assist unemployed persons in finding employment and to provide more opportunities for employment, with regard to citizens and migrant workers".
4. The State party "clarify the status of its laws in matters relating to the right of everyone to form and join trade unions and other rights spelled out in article 8, and ensure that they fully comply with article 8 of the Covenant. The State party is requested to provide the Committee with detailed information on this issue, including the text of relevant laws, in the next report".
5. The State party "provide detailed information in its next report on the extent of poverty in the State party, the housing situation of the population, including migrant workers, and on forced evictions".
6. The State party "should adopt concrete measures to ensure that human rights education is included in educational curriculum at all levels of education, and that information on human rights is disseminated effectively amongst the population".
7. The Committee urges the State party "to respect and protect freedom of information and expression in the State party, including on the Internet, to enable all persons under its jurisdiction to take part in cultural life and enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications"
8. The Committee strongly recommends that "the State party abolish Law 24 of 1991 as well as the Names Correction Committee. It should ensure the full respect of every person to use his or her own language, in private and in public, orally and in writing, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination. The State party should, in particular, recognize the right of every person to use his or her surname and first names in his or her own language".
9. The Committee requests the State party "to widely disseminate the present concluding observations among all levels of society, and in particular, members of the judiciary and law enforcement officials. It also encourages the State party to engage non-governmental organisations and other members of civil society in the process of discussions at the national level prior to the submission of the next report".
29 November 2005
(*) The full text of the UN Committee may be requested/obtained from the LLHR