Accessibility links

UN Says Violence, Abuses in Libya Getting Worse

  • Lisa Schlein

A rocket-propelled grenade damaged Libyan government offices in Tripoli June 4, 2014.

A rocket-propelled grenade damaged Libyan government offices in Tripoli June 4, 2014.

The United Nations human rights office has denounced worsening violence in the eastern part of Libya, especially in Benghazi, where it says killings, human rights abuses and other forms of repression are escalating at an alarming pace.

Officials from the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the recent murder of the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross sub-delegation in Misrata, Libya, as one of the latest examples of the country's seeming lawlessness.

According to UNOHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville, eastern Libya has become a place where impunity reigns.

“The government is effectively unable to exercise control over a large number of armed brigades. That is a major concern," he said. "The government does not have effective control over the whole country at all. Assassinations and other attacks systematically target state officials themselves, and facilities belonging to the state, particularly in the east."

Colville says hardly a week passes without bombings or attacks by armed groups
— sometimes on innocent civilians. While these groups should be answerable to the law, there aren't yet official laws to enforce.

Beyond the deteriorating security situation, he calls Libya's judicial system broken and unable to address many human rights concerns.

“For example, 7,000 people who continue to be deprived of their liberty without regard for due process: There have been reports on torture and other ill-treatment in detention facilities, the issues relating to detention of refugees and migrants transiting through Libya," he said. "Again, around 7,000 are believed to be detained, often in very poor conditions. Some of them have been detained for three years."

The United Nations published a report late last year focusing on torture and deaths in detention facilities throughout Libya.

Colville notes the government has responded to the report and has been making an effort to improve this deplorable situation.

Show comments