GENEVA: Investigators set up by the UN’s top human rights body said on Monday they had found evidence of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Libya.
They found that crimes were committed, in particular, against civilians and migrants who crossed the troubled North African country trying to get to Europe – but were detained under dire circumstances.
The Libyan government had no immediate comment.
The first findings from a “fact-finding mission” launched by the Human Rights Council chronicle crimes including murder, torture, slavery, extra-judicial killings and rape. They could send a powerful signal to major international powers such as Russia and the European Union amid the violence and abuse in Libya since the fall of former dictator Moammar Gaddafi a decade ago.
Mohamed Oujjar, former Moroccan Justice Minister who led the team, said: “Our investigation has established that all parties to the conflict, including foreign fighters and mercenaries from the Third State, have adhered to international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of proportionality and distinction. violated.” “Some have even committed war crimes.”
The doctrine of distinction requires parties to armed conflicts to distinguish between military objectives and civilian objects, while the principle of proportionality dictates that parties to war must ensure that accidental damage is not excessive.
Jamaica team member Tracy Robinson, deputy dean at the Law School at the University of the West Indies, said: “Violence in Libyan prisons is perpetrated on such a scale, and with such organization, that it potentially amounts to crimes as well. May be against humanity.”
Experts cited reports indicating that the Libyan coast guard – which has been trained and equipped as part of the EU’s efforts to stop the flow of migrants into the Mediterranean – has mistreated migrants and sent some to detention centres. Handed over where there is torture and sexual violence. “Prevailing.”
Chaloka Bayani, Professor of Law at the London School of Economics, said: “It is quite clear that the pull-back policies at sea, the push-back policies, are a massive human rights violation on the part of migrants, which has led to the detention in Libya. Is.” From Zambia, one of three members of the mission. “On the return, and as our report indicates, this is one of the areas where we think crimes against humanity have been committed.”
Amid concerns about foreign mercenaries operating in Libya, experts say there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that personnel of a Russian private military company known as the Wagner Group “committed the crime of murder”. Maybe” with regard to evidence that they had fired shots at people not directly participating in the hostilities.
The report also cited findings from “credible organizations” that approximately 87,000 migrants have been detained by the Libyan Coast Guard since 2016, with about 7,000 “currently” in centers run by the department to combat illegal migration. Are included.
Such roundups have continued in recent days: an unprecedented crackdown in Libya has led to the detention of more than 5,000 people, including hundreds of children and women, and violence in related raids that killed at least one migrant. The death has occurred, according to a United Nations tally.
The fact-finding mission, which has been documenting potential rights violations and abuses since 2016, draws from news reports, United Nations studies and advocacy groups for deadly violence, abuse of migrants, horrific conditions of detention and, more recently, in Libya. Warns about overall volatility. years.
The team, which drew from hundreds of documents and interviewed more than 150 people, including survivors of the alleged torture, said it had somewhat limited access to Libya – and spoke to prosecutors and Libyan officials. But commissioned only last year by the Geneva-based council, he noted that much work remains to be done, including significant work to identify both Libyans and foreigners who must be held accountable.
Libyan expert and senior fellow at the Global Initiative, Jalel Harchaoui, undermined the team’s findings, saying that advocacy groups have already reported abuses and potential war crimes committed by Libyan rivals and their foreign backers, especially on the capital. Tripoli by military commander Khalifa Hifter during the month-long assault.
“At this time there’s a UN report coming out that says there may be a little more weight, but it won’t matter,” Harchaui said.
Under UN mediation, the country – now ruled by a transitional government after years of division – has taken tough steps toward returning to stability, including plans to hold national elections later this year .