UN calls for international action on Libya 'war crimes'

UN says all sides in Libya have committed war crimes and calls for International Criminal Court to take action

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Fighters loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar in Libya, 2014.

The United Nations said on Thursday that all parties in Libya have committed war crimes and other human rights violations in the past two years.

Those crimes should be investigated and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), a UN report said.

An investigation by six UN human rights officers gathered evidence of widespread torture, beatings with plastic pipes or electrical cables, executions of captives, electrocution, deprivation of adequate food or water, sexual crimes, abductions and indiscriminate military attacks on civilian areas since the start of 2014, the report said.

The 95-page report includes interviews with 200 witnesses and victims and 900 individual complaints, which all catalogue the atrocities that have taken place in the country. 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement that, "One of the most striking elements of this report lies in the complete impunity which continues to prevail in Libya and the systemic failures of the justice system."

Gurdip Sangha, Libya desk officer at the UN human rights office said the report examines all matters in detail.

“You will see in very stark terms the actual accounts of victims and witnesses of... people who have had a bag put over their head when they are leaving their home, being abducted and being assaulted and tortured and dumped back. Of migrants who have been subjected to horrific abuse,” said Sangha.

People mourn for 21 men seized by DAESH terror organization in the central city of Sirte, Libya, Feb. 16, 2015. (AP)

Sangha said an environment of complete impunity in Libya has been reason for these abuses and crimes. He added that the justice system in the country is broken as judges and prosecutors are often abducted and killed. 

“Some of these attacks have been linked to the detention or the release of individuals or to thwart the release or prosecution of members. And, ultimately that is working. There have been no prosecutions of armed brigade, armed group leaders and there have been very limited investigations of any armed group leaders or armed group members,” said Sangha.

Libya has been facing a violent streak of unrest, since long-time autocrat Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011. After his fall, the country was dragged into a civil war.

Currently, Libya is divided between two parliaments with the General National Council (GNC) administering the country’s capital, Tripoli, and the rival House of Representatives based in Tobruk.

Terrorist and militant organisations have established a foothold in the country by taking advantage of the chaos.

TRTWorld and agencies