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UN Alleges Widespread Abuses Committed With Impunity in Libya

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - Fighters are seen firing a vehicle-mounted weapon on the outskirts of Sidra, Libya. The report describes unlawful killings, including executions of people taken captive.

FILE - Fighters are seen firing a vehicle-mounted weapon on the outskirts of Sidra, Libya. The report describes unlawful killings, including executions of people taken captive.

A United Nations investigating team has found what is says are widespread atrocities committed with impunity by a variety of armed groups in Libya.

A six-member U.N. team said it gathered a wealth of information and evidence of gross violations of human rights in Libya from hundreds of victims and witnesses.

The investigators allege armed groups allied with Libya’s two competing governments, multiple independent groups, and Islamic State militants are guilty of wide-ranging abuses, many of which could amount to war crimes.

The report describes unlawful killings, including executions of people taken captive. It documents indiscriminate attacks on health facilities, ambulances and medical workers. It says the use of torture, arbitrary detention, abductions and disappearances are widespread.

Other issues of concern include violence and discrimination against women, intimidation of human rights defenders and journalists, recruitment of children, and exploitation of vulnerable migrants.

FILE - Damage is seen after clashes between the Libyan military and Islamic militias in Benghazi, Libya, Oct. 29, 2014. Investigators allege armed groups allied with Libya’s two competing governments, multiple independent groups, and Islamic State militants are guilty of wide-ranging abuses.

FILE - Damage is seen after clashes between the Libyan military and Islamic militias in Benghazi, Libya, Oct. 29, 2014. Investigators allege armed groups allied with Libya’s two competing governments, multiple independent groups, and Islamic State militants are guilty of wide-ranging abuses.

Gurdip Sangha, a desk officer with the U.N. agency, said the report goes into 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.

Sangha said these abuses and crimes flourish in an environment of complete impunity. He added that the justice system in Libya is broken, with judges and prosecutors often abducted and killed, while courts are subject to bomb attacks.

“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.

The report recommends urgent action to stop the proliferation of armed groups in Libya. It says individuals who are responsible for human rights violations and abuses should not be recruited into any armed force.

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