UN experts denounce possible crimes against humanity in Libya | World news
By JAMEY KEATEN and SAMY MAGDY, Associated Press
GENEVA (AP) – Investigators commissioned by the United Nations supreme human rights body said on Monday they had evidence of possible crimes against humanity and war crimes in Libya. Many of the alleged crimes, they say, were committed against civilians and migrants detained in the country as they attempted to reach Europe.
Their findings come amid an unprecedented crackdown in Libya in recent days that has led to the detention of more than 5,000 migrants, including hundreds of children and women. Violence during the raids left at least one migrant dead, according to a UN tally obtained by the Associated Press on Monday.
The Libyan government made no immediate comment on the UN findings and said the campaign of arrests is a security operation against illegal migration and drug trafficking.
The report is the first of a “fact-finding mission” commissioned by the Human Rights Council. It includes accounts of murder, torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings and rape. Its publication could be a signal for international powers, like Russia and the European Union, to reassess their policies and support for some of the parties to the war.
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The report also comes at a sensitive time for Libya, where a transitional unity government is expected to hold national elections by the end of the year, under pressure from the UN and other world powers. Libyan lawmakers on Monday passed a bill regulating parliamentary elections, Legislature spokesman Abdullah Bliheg said in a step towards making the vote a reality.
The fighting has rocked Libya since the fall of former autocrat Muammar Gaddafi ten years ago. The country has been for years divided between rival administrations in the east and the west, each supported by armed groups.
“Our investigations have established that all parties to the conflict, including foreign fighters and mercenaries from third states, have violated international humanitarian law, in particular the principle of proportionality and distinction,” said Mohamed Auajjar, a former Moroccan Minister of Justice who led the team. “Some have also committed war crimes. “
The principle of distinction requires parties to armed conflicts to distinguish between military objectives and civilian objects, while the principle of proportionality requires belligerents to guarantee limited incidental damage. The team also found that the practice of arbitrary disappearances and violence inside Libyan prisons could constitute crimes against humanity.
Experts cite reports that the Libyan coastguard – which has been trained and equipped by the EU as part of efforts to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean – abused migrants and handed some over to detention centers where torture and torture are widespread. sexual violence.
A UN report by the International Organization for Migration, dated October 3 but obtained by the PA on Monday, showed that 5,152 migrants were detained in the series of raids in the town of Gargaresh, in the western Libya, since Friday only. Those numbers are likely to rise, according to the report, as the crackdown continues. Authorities distributed the migrants to detention centers in the capital Tripoli. At least 4,187 of the detainees, including 511 women and 60 children, were sent to a single detention center, which the report said was far beyond its capacity.
Libya has become the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, in the hope of a better life in Europe. But lawlessness has left Libyan detention centers plagued with abuse, according to rights activists and migrants coping with it.
Another expert from the UN mission, Chaloka Beyani, said policies to push migrants back to Libya away from European shores ultimately lead to abuse.
“On our return, and as our report indicates, this is one of the areas where we believe crimes against humanity have been committed,” said the law professor at the London School of Economics in Zambia.
The report cites findings that some 87,000 migrants have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard since 2016, including around 7,000 who are now in centers run by the country’s Illegal Migration Department.
Experts also addressed the issue of foreign mercenaries operating in the Libyan conflict. They said there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that the personnel of a Russian private military company known as the Wagner Group “may have committed the crime of murder.” Experts said they documented a case where the group’s forces fired shots directly at people not directly participating in hostilities.
A UN panel discovered in 2020 that the group had provided between 800 and 1,200 mercenaries to support the offensive of Libyan commander Khalifa Hifter in his 14-month offensive on the capital Tripoli.
The fact-finding mission, which has covered possible rights violations since 2016, adds to a litany of reporting, UN studies and warnings from rights groups against deadly violence, evil the treatment of migrants and the horrendous conditions of detention across Libya in recent years.
The team, which drew on hundreds of documents and interviewed more than 150 people, including survivors of suspected torture, said they had limited access to Libya – and spoke to prosecutors and authorities Libyan. But commissioned only last year by the Geneva-based council, they said more research was needed to identify both Libyans and foreigners who should be held accountable.
Jalel Harchaoui, Libyan expert and senior researcher at Global Initiative, said the findings were not new.
“A UN report released at this point saying the same thing may carry a little more weight, but won’t make much of a difference,” Harchaoui said.
Magdy reported aboard the Geo Barents in the Mediterranean Sea.
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