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Amnesty urges Libya to ‘rein in militias’

Amnesty International urged Libya’s new government on Thursday to prioritise human rights and tackle impunity as it tries to steer the country away from a decade of war.

Libya’s interim unity government came into being in March, replacing two rival administrations – one based in the capital Tripoli and the one in the country’s east – to lead the North African nation to elections later this year.

The London-based watchdog said the government must strive to re-establish the rule of law across Libya, and listed nine key points it said must be implemented.

The priority was to “rein in militias and armed groups responsible for abductions, arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances, forced displacement, looting and other crimes,” it said.

“Since Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year repressive rule ended in 2011, armed conflict and lawlessness have haunted civilians,” said Amnesty’s Diana Eltahawy.

“The advent of the Government of National Unity provides a vital opportunity to reset the political agenda and put human rights at the heart of it, in order to begin healing a country reeling from a decade of bloodshed, chaos and rights abuses,” Eltahawy added.

Amnesty urged the new government not to follow the “mistake” of previous cabinets, warning against seeking “to appease powerful and unruly militias” and secure their loyalty through offering “praise, high-level positions and legitimacy”.

Eltahawy said that issuing amnesties for war crimes would “only further embolden” such actors, and “entrench their stranglehold” on the country.

“Any attempts to integrate members of militias or armed groups must involve rigorous and thorough individual vetting,” Amnesty said.

“Those reasonably suspected of war crimes and serious human rights violations must be removed from positions of power or responsibility, pending criminal investigations and prosecutions”.

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