Amnesty: Militias should end war crimes in Libya, or to face ICC

Ahram Online, Thursday 30 Oct 2014

Amnesty International has issued a statement on the war crimes of Libya's armed groups and militias, pointing specifically to destroyed infrastructure and torture

Smoke rises during clashes between the Libyan military and Islamic militias in Benghazi, Libya Oct. 29, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Amnesty International issued a statement on Thursday saying that Libya's armed groups and militias are "committing war crimes" in the country's ongoing conflict.

In its statement, the human rights organisation claimed that the militias have carried out civilian abductions in addition to torturing and abusing their detainees.

In Tripoli, Zawiya, Warshafana and towns in the Nafusa Mountains the militias have been attacking homes and holding hostages for over two months. "In some cases, civilians have been abducted as bargaining chips, in order to secure prisoner exchanges," Amnesty reported.

Residents in Tripoli originally from Zintan told Amnesty that Libya Dawn militias had carried out door-to-door “manhunts” to seize people based on their tribal affiliation or presumed political allegiance.

A truck driver, who was abducted by an armed group from Warshafana, told Amnesty that he was being beaten with a metal bar and given electric shocks by his captors before they poured fuel over his body and threatened to set him on fire.

The statement also said that according to evidence provided by the militias' operations, they have been targeting the residents who are suspected to have different political loyalty and killing them.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme said that Libya is now under the rule of gun and that armed groups are "launching indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas and committing widespread abuses, including war crimes, with complete impunity," Amnesty quoted Sahraoui.  

Early on Thursday, Amnesty released a number of satellite images showing infrastructure heavily destroyed, burned or attacked by GRAD rockets. The images, dated from July to September display destroyed hospitals, crowded neighbourhood buildings, roads and aircrafts in Western Libya.

The Intensive Care Unit at Zawiya Hospital was struck by a rocket injuring 10 people, including doctors, nurses, patients and visitors, Amnesty reported.

Meanwhile, Amnesty suggested that militia leaders put an end to such violations, adding that failing to eliminate the abuses of the international humanitarian law "could result in prosecution of commanders by the International Criminal Court (ICC)."

It also called on the "immediate and unconditional release of anyone abducted purely on the basis of their background or political loyalties."

“Three years of failure by the Libyan authorities to hold militias accountable has emboldened them and perpetuated their belief that they are above the law,” said Sahraoui.

Amnesty alleged that the international community has ignored the chaos in Libya after the February 2011 uprising. Nonetheless, the UN Security Council resolution 2174 adopted on 27 August 2014, denounced all violations against civilians and civilian institutions, and called for accountability of those responsible of these violations.

Sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes can also be imposed against perpetrators of human rights violations in Libya, Amnesty said.

The increased violence among rival groups in Libya has displaced 287,000 people Since July, 100,000 of them were displaced during the last three weeks, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards noted during a news conference in Geneva on 10 October.

The spokesperson also added that the most significantly affected areas, have been on the outskirts of Tripoli, in the Warshefana area, and in the Benina area outside Benghazi.

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