Libya: iaIGO Calls for the Immediate Release of Abducted Tunisian Consular Staffs

Libya: iaIGO Calls for the Immediate Release of Abducted Tunisian Consular Staffs 17 June 2015

The International Gulf Organization (iaIGO) for Human Rights strongly denounces the attack on the Tunisian consular mission in Libya and the abduction of ten of its staffs.

Reports say that a group of unidentified gunmen recently attacked the Tunisian embassy in Tripoli, Libya’s capital and held hostage about 10 consular staffs. No militant group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. But the hostages are said to be in good conditions.

In August 2014, after an armed faction called Libya Dawn took over Tripoli and set up its own government, most foreign embassies including the Tunisian consular mission were closed and many diplomats’ were moved out of the city. But Tunisia has recently sent some of its consular staff back to resume duty in Tripoli.

iaIGO condemns the attack on the Tunisian diplomatic mission premises and the abduction of its staff members and stresses that it is clearly unlawful under international human rights laws. the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) impose a duty on each member state to protect covered premises from harm regardless of whether the host State has any responsibility over those causing it.  Article 22(2) of the VCDR states that “The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.” Additionally, abduction violates the Universal Human Rights Declaration, Article 9: “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”

Armed groups in Libya have kidnapped foreign nationals and diplomats in the past year to try to pressure their governments to release jailed Libyan militants. Attacks by these militant groups have increased in recent times due to the fighting between rival governments seeking control over the North African state. Libya Dawn, a loose alliance of former rebel brigades and extremist groups, seized power in Tripoli, expelling the existing government, which now operates from the east of the country, and setting up its own. Due to the lack of a unified government and the rule of law, jihadists’ militants have extended their activists including the attack on consular missions.

Hence, iaIGO urgently calls for the relevant Libyan government to immediately and unconditionally release the abducted consular staffs. Libya should uphold its obligations under international humanitarian laws to protect the diplomatic and consular premises of foreign countries within its territories. iaIGO further urges all parties involved in the political crisis in Libya should work in close cooperation with the UN to come up with solutions that will restore the rule of law, peace, security and stability in the country.