HRW says Libya's militias are committing 'war crimes'

Ahram Online, Monday 8 Sep 2014

Human Rights Watch calls for restraint as violence flares and says warring militias could face international prosecution

Libyan Jihadists
Libyan Jihadists (Photo: AP)

Human Rights Watch reported on Monday that "war crimes" could be occurring in Libya and called for restraint as attacks by militia forces escalate.

HRW's report said that the Libya Dawn Alliance, led by militias from the coastal city of Misrata, and another coalition of militias from the Zintan mountain area have initiated a series of attacks on civilians and their property.

"Commanders on both sides need to rein in their forces and end the cycle of abuses or risk being first in line for possible sanctions and international prosecution," Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East and North Africa director, was quoted as saying.

The international rights organisation also documented those being targeted – including journalists, government officials and civilians – as the Dawn Alliance accuses them of sympathising with the Libya Dignity, a military campaign in eastern Libya led by ex-army general Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar's troops are currently fighting Islamist militias under the Islamic Shura Council, including Ansar Al-Sharia, the report pointed out.

HRW said Libya Dawn militia forces attacked the home of Libya's Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani on 25 August and "forced out his family, looting the house and setting it ablaze." The report also referred to the burning of the home of acting Transportation Minister Abdel-Gader Al-Zintani two days later.

"In other cases, the militias targeted people from Zintan and supporters of Libya Dignity, as well as people whom the Misrata militias forcibly displaced from the town of Tawergha following the 2011 conflict because of the Tawerghans' alleged support for Muammar Gaddafi," asserted the report.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has previously warned in a statement that her office "will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who commit crimes under the Court's jurisdiction in Libya, irrespective of their official status or affiliation."

HRW accused the Libyan government and militia forces of failing to stop such attacks, end the forced displacement, allow displaced persons to return home and hold account those responsible, despite repeated international calls for them to protect displaced communities.

Short link: