Libya, U.S. Sign Declaration of Intent

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan
Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Libyan Ministry of Justice signed a declaration of intent that stipulates both countries desire “to facilitate effective cooperation by both countries in law enforcement matters relating to terrorism, transnational crime, and corruption.” The agreement states U.S. and Libyan law enforcement agencies will collaborate “informally to share documents and investigative information”; share other relevant information such as threat information; facilitate in-person interviews; act on mutual legal assistance requests for bank, business, and other records; offer forensic assistance, law enforcement training and assistance; and encourage meetings of legal experts to discuss “ways of enhancing mutual legal assistance relating to terrorism, transnational crime and corruption.”

Human Rights Watch released a report condemning Libya’s failure to investigate protester killings thoroughly. According to Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, “The authorities urgently need to work out a feasible plan to question witnesses and militia members in connection with these deadly attacks on protesters.” She continued by noting, “It’s bad enough the authorities seem to be powerless to defend Libyan citizens, but they need to make greater efforts to investigate the deaths of dozens of people.” The report concludes that  “The government’s human rights responsibilities include the duty to secure the rights to life and to security of all people within its territory or jurisdiction. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect people from identifiable or predictable threats to their lives.”

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan gave an interview with the Washington Post. When asked about the General National Congress’ (GNC) decision to pass a law making sharia the law of the land, Prime Minister Zeidan said “they said as a principle that sharia is the main source of legislation” and explained that this decision was intended “to ease the tension” in the GNC. PM Zeidan also addressed security issues including his kidnapping and the disarmament of militias. When asked how long the general-purpose force (that the United States, Great Britain and others are training) will take to come into being, Zeidan responded “a couple of months” and that in the meantime, militias “want to take over things” but have thus far failed, and argued that the tide has turned against militias as the people have begun to demonstrate against them. Prime Minister Zeidan was also asked about U.S. assistance, and responded “we have to stand on our own two legs. The United States helped us from the beginning, but we can’t expect from the other what we wish.” He then went on to state the United States could provide further assistance to “help us disarm the militias.” Finally, Prime Minister Zeidan discussed parliamentary elections, which he said are scheduled to take place in January after a committee is formed to write the constitution.