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Libya

    January 27, 2015

    Posted at 0001 GMT  28 January 2015

    Targeted UN sanctions and accountability, including through the International Criminal Court (ICC), are urgently needed to end rampant abductions, torture, summary killings and other abuses by rival forces in Libya, some of which amount to war crimes, according to a new briefing published by Amnesty International today.  

    Benghazi's descent into chaos: abductions, summary killings and other abuses sheds light on a series of gruesome abuses carried out by fighters from both the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries (SCBR), a coalition of Islamist militias and armed groups, and forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar’s Operation Dignity campaign, since May 2014. 

    “Over the past few months as tit for tat attacks by rival forces in the city continue to escalate, Benghazi has steadily descended into chaos and misrule. The city has been ripped apart by spiraling violence waged by rival groups and their supporters seeking vengeance,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. 

    October 29, 2014

    Released 00:01 GMT 30 October 2014

    Lawless militias and armed groups on all sides of the conflict in western Libya are carrying out rampant human rights abuses, including war crimes, according to a new briefing from Amnesty International.

    Rule of the gun: Abductions, torture and other abuses by militias in western Libya provides evidence that armed groups have possibly summarily killed, tortured or ill-treated detainees in their custody and are targeting civilians based on their origins or perceived political allegiances.

    Likewise, satellite images released today by Amnesty International show that fighters on all sides in the conflict have displayed an utter disregard for civilian lives, with indiscriminate rocket and artillery fire into crowded civilian neighbourhoods damaging homes, civilian infrastructure and medical facilities.

    August 22, 2014

    A shocking video showing an execution-style killing by an armed group at a football stadium in eastern Libya highlights the authorities’ failure to prevent parts of the country from descending into violence and lawlessness, Amnesty International said today.

    An amateur video published on social media sites shows the purported execution of an Egyptian man apparently organized by an armed group called the Shura Council of Islamic Youth in the eastern city of Derna.

    “This unlawful killing realizes the greatest fears of ordinary Libyans, who in parts of the country find themselves caught between ruthless armed groups and a failed state,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “Such acts can only lead to further human rights abuses in Derna, where residents have no recourse to state institutions and therefore no means to seek justice or effective protection from abuses.

    August 06, 2014

    Amnesty International is calling for all sides to immediately stop the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas in Tripoli and Benghazi where clashes in recent weeks have evolved into two separate armed conflicts. Such indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amount to war crimes. 

    Intense fighting between rival armed groups and militias in both cities has killed 214 people and injured 981, according to the Ministry of Health, as well as causing damage to civilian property. Medical workers reported that the dead and injured included civilians, in particular women and children. 

    “The warring parties in Tripoli and Benghazi have displayed a wanton disregard for the safety of ordinary civilians who have found themselves mercilessly pinned down by indiscriminate shelling with imprecise weapons that should never be used in populated areas,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.  

    “All sides in both these conflicts have an absolute obligation under international law not to target attacks against civilians.” 

    June 26, 2014

    The Libyan authorities must ensure that yesterday’s killing of a leading human rights activist in Benghazi is properly investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice, Amnesty International said.

    Salwa Bugaighis, a lawyer who played a prominent role in organizing protests at the start of the uprising that overthrew Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, was shot dead at her home in Benghazi by unknown assailants on the day Libyans voted for a new parliament.

    “The shocking, ruthless killing of Salwa Bugaighis robs Libyan civil society of one it’s most courageous and esteemed figures. But sadly she is by no means the first activist struck down during the political violence that has plagued the country since the uprising and in its aftermath,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    June 17, 2014

    Libyan armed forces and armed groups, including militias, must immediately stop the reckless shelling of residential areas, endangering the lives of Benghazi residents, Amnesty International said following a renewed round of heavy fighting in the eastern city.

    At least five residents, including a boy aged 11, were killed when forces affiliated with retired General Khalifa Haftar clashed with Ansar al-Sharia and other Islamist groups. Three foreign workers were also injured.

    In a month of fighting, Amnesty International has documented a number of incidents, where shelling has resulted in deaths and injuries of ordinary residents and medical personnel and caused damage to homes, crops and medical facilities. Hundreds were forced to flee their homes because of the fighting.  

    “While both sides may be intending to attack what they consider to be military objectives, ordinary residents increasingly are bearing the brunt of attacks with weapons that lack precision,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    May 21, 2014

    The Libyan authorities must immediately surrender Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial on charges of crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said, following the Court’s decision to proceed with his prosecution.

    A majority of the ICC Appeals Chamber today rejected all four grounds of appeal brought by the Libyan government and upheld an earlier decision of the Pre Trial Chamber that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi should be tried by the ICC. The reasons for the refusal include the government’s failure to demonstrate that he was facing substantially the same case nationally as he would face at the ICC.

    “The ICC Appeals Chamber’s decision marks a crucial step towards delivering justice to the victims of crimes against humanity during the Libyan uprising in 2011 and the ensuing armed conflict. The Libyan authorities must now immediately surrender Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to the ICC so his trial can finally get under way,” said Solomon Sacco, Senior Legal Adviser at Amnesty International.

    April 26, 2014

    Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and Libya’s former intelligence chief, Abdallah al-Senussi, are among 37 former government officials who are standing trial in Libya on charges relating to the 2011 uprising and subsequent armed conflict. Their court proceedings – via video link for some of the defendants – resumes on Sunday, 27 April.

    Libya has repeatedly insisted it is able to ensure a fair trial for all defendants. However, Amnesty International has serious doubts about the capacity of Libya’s judiciary to guarantee a fair trial for former members of the al-Gaddafi regime.

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has also charged Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and Abdallah al-Senussi with crimes against humanity.

    On 14 April a court ordered that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, who remains in militia custody, and six other defendants held in Misratah may be tried via video link, a move that will seriously undermine their rights to a fair trial. For further information see: Libya: Trial of former al-Gaddafi officials by video link.

    April 14, 2014

    The trial of former Libyan officials, including Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, risks descending into a farce after the court ordered today that he and six other defendants be tried via video link, said Amnesty International.

    On 23 March, a day before the last hearing in this case, two amendments were made to Libya’s Code of Criminal Procedure to allow hearings via video link. 

    The trials by video link will infringe all the seven defendants’ rights to a fair trial. The impact on Saif al-Islam’s case is of particular concern as he remains held in a secret location in Zintan by a militia that has repeatedly refused to hand him over to state custody in Tripoli. The other six defendants are held in Misratah in prisons under the control of the Ministries of Justice and Defence. 

    February 27, 2014

    Two politicians could be sentenced to death over a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam when a verdict is issued in their case on Sunday 2 March, said Amnesty International.

    The organization is calling for the charges against them to be dropped immediately.

    The cartoon, which depicts a group of men discussing the role of women in society, appeared on a Libyan National Party electoral campaign poster in the main streets of Libyan cities ahead of parliamentary elections in 2012.

    “It is shocking that two political figures may face a firing squad over a cartoon that was published on an electoral campaign poster. No one should be prosecuted for freely expressing his or her views in public – however offensive they may seem to others,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “Libyans must be free to speak their minds, regardless of whether those views are expressed verbally, or appear on a poster, in a poem or a newspaper article. It is ludicrous that doing so could be considered a crime punishable by death.”

    February 12, 2014

    Mounting curbs on freedom of expression are threatening the rights Libyans sought to gain by overthrowing Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, said Amnesty International ahead of the third anniversary of the 2011 Libyan uprising.

    In the latest move to stifle dissent across Libya, the authorities have consolidated a Gaddafi-era law that criminalizes insults to the state, its emblem or flag.  The amended version of Article 195 of the Penal Code outlaws all criticism of the ‘17 February Revolution’ or insults to officials. An almost identical law drafted under al-Gaddafi banned all acts regarded as an attack against the Great Fateh Revolution and its leader.

    “Three years ago Libyans took to the streets to demand greater freedom, not another authoritarian rule,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “What is the difference between not being able to criticize al-Gaddafi’s ‘Al-Fateh Revolution’ or the '17 February Revolution’? Behind both is the idea that expression is limited and some issues of taboo.”

    January 22, 2014

    A writer and political commentator who was a prisoner of conscience under Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s rule, has now fallen foul of Libya’s transitional authorities after making statements deemed offensive to prominent political figures during a television appearance, said Amnesty International.

    Jamal al-Hajji was convicted of defamation on 31 December 2013 and sentenced to eight months in prison and a fine of 400,000 Libyan Dinar [approximately 318,650 USD].  During an interview in February 2013 on al-Wataniya, a local Libyan television channel, he accused the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Abulaziz and five other politicians and public figures of conspiring against Libya and the “17 February Revolution”. Four of them lodged a complaint against Jamal al-Hajji. His appeal hearing is scheduled for Thursday 23 January.

    “No one should be sent to prison for expressing their views. Free expression is one of the rights Libyans took to the streets to reclaim during the 2011 uprising against Muammar al-Gaddafi,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    December 09, 2013

    Libya’s authorities must urgently investigate the death of a soldier who was tortured to death last week following 10 hours of interrogation by his own army unit, said Amnesty International.

    Hussein Radwan Raheel, 37, who served with the Saiqa Forces, an elite army unit under the Ministry of Defence, was severely beaten and subjected to electric shocks, family members told Amnesty International. A forensic report and photos of his body seen by the organization also indicate that he was tortured.

    “Torture and ill-treatment were routinely used by the state to terrorize the Libyan people under al-Gaddafi’s brutal rule. The Libyan authorities must show that the country has made a clean break with the past by sending a strong message that human rights violations by state officials will no longer be tolerated,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    November 21, 2013

    The Libyan authorities must actively protect protesters from attacks by armed militia during ongoing demonstrations this week or risk further bloodshed, Amnesty International said today.

    The Head of the Tripoli Local Council has called on Tripoli’s residents to pursue a general strike until all armed groups leave the city. Large demonstrations are planned for this Friday in Tripoli’s Al Quds Square. Activists have also called for demonstrations outside militia compounds.

    The calls follow the deaths of 43 individuals and hundreds of injured, including children as young as 11 at a peaceful demonstration and subsequent clashes in Gharghour area of Tripoli on 15 November.

    “The Libyan authorities must guarantee that protesters taking to the streets on Friday will be protected from violence by militias. Anything short of that could result in a new tragedy,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    October 23, 2013

    The Libyan authorities must urgently find a durable solution to end the continued forcible displacement of tens of thousands of Tawarghas and other communities, from their hometown during the armed conflict of 2011, said Amnesty International.

    The entire inhabitants of the town of Tawargha – some 40,000 people - were driven out by armed groups from Misratah who accused them of supporting Colonel al-Gaddafi’s government. An Amnesty International briefing Barred from their Home, published on the second anniversary of the end of the conflict, highlights the continued discrimination, abductions and arbitrary detention of the Tawargha, who still face threats and reprisal attacks at the hand of militias acting above the law.

    “Two years after the conflict, Tawarghas and other displaced communities are still waiting for justice and effective reparations for the abuses they have suffered. Many continue to face discrimination and live in under resourced camps with no solution in sight,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

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