Libya: armed militias must be reined in
“Take them all and kill them.” (a militia member talking about a group of 29 detainees whose dead bodies were found three days later)
The armed militias which fought Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s repressive regime now threaten Libya’s human rights hopes.
Libyans are trying to rebuild their lives after months of bloody conflict. However, armed militias are taking the law into their own hands – seeking out and exacting revenge against those they believe stayed loyal to al-Gaddafi or fought on his behalf.
Torture is widespread. It is carried out by military and security entities, as well by a multitude of armed militias operating outside any legal framework and accountable to no one. Many detainees have died after being tortured. Several people interviewed by Amnesty International said they had confessed to crimes they had not committed just to end the torture.
Whole communities have also been targeted, including people from Tawargha – black Libyans who face revenge attacks after their town was used as a base by al-Gaddafi forces. The entire population of the town was forcibly displaced. Some 30,000 people are now stranded in makeshift camps with no end in sight to their ordeal. The militias also continue to target Sub-African migrants and refugees.
No one has been brought to justice for human rights violations, and survivors and the families of those who died have not received reparation. There have been no effective investigations into cases of torture and deaths in custody. Unless concrete actions are taken abuses won’t stop.
Libya’s new government faces many challenges as it rebuilds. The first must be to get control of the armed militias.
Please write polite letters to the diplomatic representatives for Libya in Canada calling on them to rein in the armed militias. In particular, ask them to:
- Investigate and bring to justice militia members responsible for human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, torture, extra-judicial executions, the forcible displacement of the Tawargha, the Mashashiya and other communities, and other human rights abuses.
- Take effective action to stop the repetition of such abuses.
- Ensure that communities displaced by militias, such as the Tawargha, are able to return home and are given adequate assistance to rebuild their lives, including compensation and assistance in reconstruction.
Mr. Abubaker M.A. Karmos
Embassy of Libya
81 Metcalfe, Suite 1000
Ottawa, ON K1P 6K7
Salutation: Dear Mr. Abubaker M.A. Karmos