Libya: Armed Groups Detain, Torture, Kill

Editorial Comment:

The report below understates the challenges of terrorism and refers indiscriminately to “militias, neglecting to mention who sponsors, funds and arms them and that they are largely foreign nationals.  It never mentions the victories of the Libyan National Army over the various terrorist organizations or the role of the Libyan Tribes in maintaining law and order in their respective regions.

It has been edited for greater accuracy where possible.

Jamahiriya News Agency

Rampant Abuses, Impunity, ‘Warlordism’

(Tunis) – Armed groups, some affiliated with rival governments vying for legitimacy and territorial control, detained, tortured, “disappeared,” and unlawfully killed people with impunity in Libya during 2016, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2017.
Members of the Libyan National Army, the armed forces allied with the Interim Government in al-Bayda, during clashes with the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, an Islamist militia alliance, in Benghazi on April 1, 2015.

Members of the Libyan National Army during clashes with the terrorist organization, Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, in Benghazi on April 1, 2015.

The ongoing warfare created a humanitarian crisis. Nearly 500,000 people are internally displaced, the economy and judicial system have collapsed, and hundreds of thousands of foreign migrants and asylum-seekers risk harsh detention and torture as they transit through Libya in the hope of reaching Europe. Although weakened, Islamist militants, including fighters who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), continue to control territory and commit abuses.

“Abuses by armed groups in Libya have gone unchecked for the past five years as warlords grow stronger while living conditions for ordinary civilians deteriorate,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “While there is no magic for Libya, countries supportive of parties to the internal conflict need to cut off aid to those responsible for abuses and impose sanctions on them.”

Six years after the 2011 NATO war  against Libya, militias  engage in arbitrary detention, torture, unlawful killings, and indiscriminate attacks. The security vacuum led to politically motivated abductions as well as kidnappings for profit of politicians, journalists, and ordinary civilians, including children.

In Benghazi, a total of 24 people were found tortured and killed by terrorists in two separate incidents, in July and October. In Tripoli, unidentified armed groups killed 12 detainees when they were conditionally released from al-Baraka prison in Tripoli, in June. The families said that the bodies were found in various locations around Tripoli.

The clashes between various militias were most intense in Benghazi, Tripoli, Sebha, and Sirte. In Benghazi several hundred civilians remained trapped since 2014 in the Ganfouda neighborhood, which was held by Islamist militants until liberated by the Libyan National Army forces.

Thousands of people, including some women and children, most of them suspected of being former Gaddafi supporters, have been in arbitrary detention for long periods without charges or due process. Guards and militia members have mistreated and tortured detainees with impunity. Detaining authorities should release all those held in arbitrary detention, Human Rights Watch said.

Prospects for accountability remained slim, as the domestic criminal justice system did not function in parts of the country, and the International Criminal Court, despite having jurisdiction over Libya, failed to open any new investigation into ongoing crimes.