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Libya

    June 14, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT Tuesday 14 June 2016

    The EU’s plans to cooperate more closely with Libya on migration risk fuelling the rampant ill-treatment and indefinite detention in horrifying conditions of thousands of refugees and migrants, said Amnesty International.

    Last month the EU announced plans to extend its anti-smuggling naval mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Sophia, for another year and to train, build up the capacity of and share information with the Libyan coastguard following a request by the new Libyan government. However, testimonies gathered during visits to Sicily and Puglia in May 2016 reveal shocking abuses by the Libyan coastguard and at immigration detention centres in Libya.

    Amnesty International spoke to 90 people who survived the treacherous sea crossing from Libya to Italy, including at least 20 refugees and migrants who described shootings and beatings while being picked up by the coastguard or harrowing torture and other ill-treatment at detention centres. In one case, the Libyan coastguard abandoned a boat leaving some 120 people on board instead of rescuing them.

    February 16, 2016

    Urgent and sustained international support is needed to help end the cycle of chaos and rampant abuse gripping Libya, said Amnesty International on the fifth anniversary of the uprising that brought an end to Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s brutal authoritarian rule.

    The international community has been actively engaged in a peace process aimed at ending the fighting and forming a unity government. However, accountability for countless war crimes and other serious human rights abuses during spiralling violence is still elusive. Urgent International funding to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the country is also desperately needed.

    “World leaders, particularly those who took part in the NATO intervention that helped to overthrow Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011 have a duty to ensure that those responsible for the horrors that have unfolded in Libya in its wake are held to account,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    August 04, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  5 August 2015

    Rampant abductions by armed groups have become a part of daily life in Libya, said Amnesty International as it launched a campaign digest, ‘Vanished off the face of the earth’: Abducted civilians in Libya, calling for an end to an epidemic of kidnapping blighting the country. 

    More than 600 people have gone missing since last year according to the Libyan Red Crescent Society (LRCS), and the fate and whereabouts of at least 378 remain unknown, though the real numbers are likely to be much higher.

    “Civilians in Libya are living on a knife edge. Widespread lawlessness and chaos have been exacerbated by routine abductions, as armed groups tighten their stranglehold on the country,” said Said Boumedouha, Acting Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    July 28, 2015

    Today’s convictions of more than 30 al-Gaddafi-era officials, including the imposition of nine death sentences, follow a trial marred with serious flaws that highlight Libya’s inability to administer justice effectively in line with international fair trial standards, Amnesty International said.

    Among the nine people sentenced to death for war crimes and other offences during the 2011 armed conflict are Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, and the former Head of Military Intelligence, Abdallah al-Senussi. Twenty-three other former officials were given sentences ranging from life imprisonment to five years in prison, four people were acquitted, and one was referred for medical treatment and not sentenced.

    “Instead of helping to establish the truth and ensuring accountability for serious violations during the 2011 armed conflict, this trial exposes the weakness of a criminal justice system which is hanging on by a thread in a war-torn country with no central authority,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    May 10, 2015

    Released 00:01 BST Monday 11 May 2015

    Refugees and migrants across Libya face rape, torture and abductions for ransom by traffickers and smugglers, as well as systematic exploitation by their employers, religious persecution and other abuses by armed groups and criminal gangs, according to a new Amnesty International briefing published today.

    ‘Libya is full of cruelty’: Stories of abduction, sexual violence and abuse from migrants and refugees exposes the full horror and plight of refugees and migrants in Libya, many of whom are driven to risk their lives in treacherous sea crossings in a desperate attempt to reach sanctuary in Europe.

    “The ghastly conditions for migrants, coupled with spiralling lawlessness and armed conflicts raging within the country, make clear just how dangerous life in Libya is today.  With no legal avenues to escape and seek safety, they are forced to place their lives in the hands of smugglers who callously extort, abuse and attack them,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

    February 23, 2015

    New eyewitness testimonies gathered by Amnesty International indicate that the Egyptian Air Force failed to take the necessary precautions in carrying out an attack which killed seven civilians in a residential neighbourhood in the Libyan city of Derna on 16 February.

    The incident is one in a string of horrific acts – some of which amount to war crimes – in recent weeks that show how civilians are increasingly bearing the brunt of reprisal attacks as violence in Libya escalates.  

    In the latest incident on 20 February, according to the Libyan authorities 42 people were killed, including civilians, in bombings targeting military and civilian targets in the eastern city of Qubbah. A group calling itself Barqa Province of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in retaliation for the Egyptian airstrikes.

    “Civilians in Libya are in mortal danger as retaliatory attacks by all sides spiral even further out of control in the aftermath of the horrific murder of the 21 Egyptian Copts,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International. 

    February 16, 2015

    The horrific execution-style killing of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by the group calling itself the Tripoli Province of Islamic State is a war crime and an attack on the fundamental principles of humanity, Amnesty International said today.  

    A video published online by the media wing of the armed group purports to show the beheadings of 21 Copts, mostly Egyptians, on a beach in an unknown location in the province of Tripoli. The atrocity was carried out in retaliation for the alleged abduction of Camilia Shehata, an Egyptian woman, formerly a Christian, whose conversion to Islam sparked a wave of protests in 2010.

    Nothing could justify the cold-blooded murder of the men who appear to have been targeted solely on account of their faith, Amnesty International has said.
    The video titled “A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross” shows a group of men dressed in orange jumpsuits who are paraded on the beach by masked men, then forced to kneel, and then beheaded.

    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.

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