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UNSMIL reports details human rights abuses across Libya

UNSMIL has released a report detailing ongoing human rights abuses and violations of international law, reporting that the armed conflict in many areas across the country is causing hundreds of deaths, mass displacement and a humanitarian crisis in many areas.

The comprehensive report provided a history of the clashes which began in May in Benghazi and which since spread across the country, with armed conflicts taking place in Tripoli, west of Tripoli, the Jebel Nafusa, Obari and now the centre of Libya’s coastline around the oil ports of Sidra and Ras Lanuf.

The report detailed human rights abuses and international laws broken in various areas of Libya, beginning with Tripoli.

UNSMIL representatives interviewed residents of Tripoli who reported they had witnessed an increase in security in recent weeks. Other residents, however, described an atmosphere of repression.

Activists, human rights defenders and journalists face ongoing threats and danger, reported UNSMIL. The National Council for Civil Liberties and Human Rights (NCCLHR) has stopped its work due to intimidation.

Media outlets, civil society organizations and individuals have been subjected to threats and intimidation by Libya Dawn, UNSMIL said.

The report also cited the shelling of Mitiga Airport by the LNA’s Air Force.

In the Warshefana area west of Tripoli,UNSMIL said that indiscriminate shelling by both sides had led to civilian casualties including women and children as well as the destruction of schools, hospitals and clinics.

Houses, farms and businesses were shelled, burned down, looted or destroyed by bulldozers, resulting in the displacement of 120,000 residents.

The LNA Air force strikes killed migrant workers in Zuwara and destroyed a food warehouse and part of the port area there, the report said.

The destruction throughout the Warshefana area had caused a humanitarian crisis, with food and medical supply shortages. Libya Dawn forces, said UNSMIL, had not allowed UNSMIL observers to enter the area to ascertain the extent of the damage or the need.

Large numbers of families had been displaced in the Jebel Nafusa, the report said. Additionally at least 170 had been killed and hundreds injured.

In the Jebel Nafusa UNSMIL cited the destruction or damage of homes, businesses, schools and hospitals, saying that fighters on both sides used schools as military bases.

Fighting had prevented aid from reaching those who need it as residents struggled with shortages of food and medical supplies in the mountain region of western Libya.

UNSMIL also said that militias cut off main roads, causing difficulties in evacuating the wounded.

Eastern Libya, particularly Benghazi, had been the scene of the most bloodshed. UNSMIL reported that 450 were killed in the last two months in the city.

The report cited indiscriminate shelling as well as intentional destruction of personal property based on the owners’ associations with different sides of the conflict.

Medical services were severely degraded in Benghazi. UNSMIL cited numerous attacks on and in hospitals and clinics in the city. Staff had been threatened and some abducted or killed. Other staff had fled, leading to a severe shortage of medical personnel.

UNSMIL condemned the unlawful detentions carried out by both sides in Benghazi. There had been allegations of torture of detainees, the report stated.

Benghazi had seen large numbers of its population displaced from their homes because of the widespread fighting in residential neighbourhoods.

In Obari in southern Libya, indiscriminate shelling damaged schools, banks, government buildings and private property. The area had seen 140 killed, including four boys.

As many as 3,500 families have been displaced. The area is facing shortages of medical supplies and personnel. Furthermore, armed groups refused to allow aid convoys access to the area.

Across the country, arrests, detentions and abductions on the basis of affiliation or tribe were carried out by all sides and documented by UNSMIL. Migrant labourers endured arbitrary detention and forced labour, the report said.

UNSMIL said it documented cases of torture and abuse of detainees, particularly in Al-Jazira and Al-Janubi prisons and Mitiga and Abu-Salim detention centres. There have been, claimed UNSMIL, at least two deaths as a result of torture. UNSMIL said it had been denied access to detainees in Mitiga and Abu Sleem.

The report also cited deteriorating conditions in official government detention centres.

UNSMIL said it had heard allegations of summary executions, but these remain unverified.

Citing international law, UNSMIL reminded all parties of prohibitions against attacks on civilians and civilian properties and against indiscriminate attacks.

“Hospitals, schools, airports, ports and all other civilian facilities not used for military purposes must not be attacked,” the report read.

UNSMIL also warned against taking hostages based on individual or group identity, as well as inhumane treatment of detainees. The report urged allowing access to treatment for the wounded.

“Those committing crimes under international law, as well as political leaders and commanders of armed groups who order the commission of such crimes or fail to take reasonable and necessary measures to prevent or punish their commission, are criminally liable including before the International Criminal Court,” declared UNSMIL.

It appealed to all sides to end all hostilities and engagement in inclusive dialogue that leads to state building. It urged accountability as well as no toleration of violations of human rights and humanitarian law. All parties were responsible, said UNSMIL, for the protection of human rights, including the humane treatment and/or release for detainees.

Libya Herald staff.

Libya Herald

This article was originally published here.

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