- "The attacks by the armed group, which is under the command of General Khalifa Hiftar, were recorded and posted on social media in May 2020."
- The UN mission in Libya (MANUL) also said it was “horrified” with information about the discovery of at least eight mass graves in Tarhouna.
- HRW also urged the UNHRC to establish a fact-finding mission to document violations.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) today called for an urgent investigation into possible war crimes committed by Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces in Libya, marking “apparent evidence of torture” and “summary executions.” HRW cited videos showing Haftar’s forces being involved in such acts.
“The Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) should urgently investigate evidence that fighters affiliated with it apparently tortured, summarily executed, and desecrated corpses of opposing fighters,” HRW said in a statement. “The attacks by the armed group, which is under the command of General Khalifa Hiftar, were recorded and posted on social media in May 2020,” they say.
“The torture of detainees and summary execution of fighters who have been captured or who have surrendered are war crimes” recalls the organization. After launching an offensive against Tripoli in April 2019— the UN’s recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) headquarters— Marshal Haftar’s troops had to retreat after a series of setbacks in recent weeks.
The fighting outside the capital, in a country in chaos since the fall of its long time ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011, has caused hundreds of deaths and more than 200,000 people left displaced.
The UN mission in Libya (MANUL) also said it was “horrified” with information about the discovery of at least eight mass graves in Tarhouna, the last bastion of forces loyal to the eastern Libyan strongman, recovered on 5 June by pro-GNA forces.
“Khalifa Hiftar needs to urgently hold his forces accountable for any war crimes they are committing and apparently advertising online,” said Hanan Salah, senior Libya researcher at HRW. “Senior LAAF leadership has ignored these crimes, but they should be held accountable by domestic and international courts for complicity in abuses.”
Salah drew the attention of ENL commanders to the fact that they can also be held responsible for a multitude of war crimes if they do not hold accountable those responsible for the crimes.
“Senior LAAF commanders should know that they too can be held accountable for a plethora of war crimes by their rank and file if they don’t hold those responsible for the crimes to account,” Salah said.
The Battle of Tripoli was also marked by a growing involvement of foreign powers, with Turkey supporting the GNA, and the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Russia helping Haftar. In addition to the commanders of the pro- Haftar forces, all foreign parties “must respect the laws of war,” notes HRW.
The organization adds that:
To help end the cycle of impunity in Libya, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva should, during its upcoming session in June, establish an international fact-finding mission to document violations, identify those responsible, including external actors, preserve evidence where possible for future criminal proceedings, and publicly report on the human rights situation in Libya.