Libya Background

On February 15, 2011, prominent Benghazi human rights lawyer Fathi Tirbil was arrested by Gaddafi’s security forces. Tirbil was among those who represented prisoners’ relatives killed in 1996 by Libyan security forces at Libya’s Abu Salim Prison. His arrest sparked protests in Benghazi that transformed into mass demonstrations throughout Libya against the Gaddafi regime. With NATO support, Libya’s revolutionaries succeeded in ending Gaddafi’s rule in its 42nd year.

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) began its Libya work in January 2012 by conducting a preliminary rule of law assessment and holding a conference on rule of law priorities for Libyan lawyers, judges and civil society members.

Informed by these engagements and supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, ABA ROLI launched a new program in Libya in May 2012. The program builds the capacity of Libyan bar associations and civil society organizations to engage in effective rule of law reform through public education and advocacy. The program currently focuses on elections law, election violations reporting and election dispute resolution.

In addition, ABA ROLI is providing training and substantive resources for Libyan bar associations and civil society organizations in transition-related law reform areas, including judicial independence, human rights law, fair trial standards and advocacy. ABA ROLI’s program in Libya emphasizes the participation of women and youth.