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Rival Governments, Armed Militias Threaten Stability in Libya

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - A member of Libyan National Army fires a weapon during clashes with Islamist militants in the militants' last stronghold in Benghazi, Libya, July 6, 2017.

The U.N. Human Rights Office warns rival governments and armed militias in Libya are in violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws and their abusive actions threaten the stability of the country. The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva is reviewing a report on the situation.

The report makes for grim reading. Six years after former Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi was toppled, it finds armed groups including the internationally recognized Government of National Accord and the opposition Libyan National Army and its allies are creating havoc in the country.

FILE - United Nation Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore during a news conference at the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Nov. 23, 2016.
FILE - United Nation Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore during a news conference at the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Nov. 23, 2016.

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore says these armed groups are committing widespread, gross violations of human rights, including hostage holding, torturing and killing men, women and children with impunity. She says they are operating outside any rule of law or system of accountability.

“The people in Libya are quite simply sick and tired of the situation. Its impact is felt daily by children, women and men across the country. It is civilians who are being hurt, abducted, raped, tortured and killed,” she said.

Violations, abuses continue

Gilmore says it is the people of Libya who are demanding decisive action to bring this dangerous situation to an end. But, she adds nothing is being done. Violations and abuses continue unabated.

She says criminal violence and impunity have worsened into a humanitarian crisis in parts of the country. She says increased disappearances, targeted killings and hostage taking of children, gender based violence, and the detention of migrants under abysmal conditions in official and unofficial centers comprise today’s reality in Libya.

FILE - Children, who Libyan forces said left the last cluster of buildings controlled by Islamic State in the group's former stronghold of Sirte, receive medical treatment in a hospital in Misrata, Libya, Dec. 4, 2016.
FILE - Children, who Libyan forces said left the last cluster of buildings controlled by Islamic State in the group's former stronghold of Sirte, receive medical treatment in a hospital in Misrata, Libya, Dec. 4, 2016.

“The cases we have documented reveal a fundamental lack of protection for civilians in Libya and starkly illustrate the desperate situation of people in the most vulnerable settings, all of whom have little or no recourse to redress,” he said.

The U.N. is calling for perpetrators who have committed criminal actions to be brought before the International Criminal Court. Gilmore notes the rampant impunity afflicting the people of Libya is destroying the lives of people today. At the same time, she says it is eroding prospects for peace tomorrow.

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