Photo Credit: Amnesty International
University professor Dr Salem Mohamed Beitelmal was released on 6 June. He had been abducted by local militias on the outskirts of Tripoli since 20 April. He has now returned home and joined his family.
The continuing rise in abductions at the hands of militias highlights how the absence of the rule of law in Libya is fuelling chaos and lawlessness and leaving civilians in the country living in fear, said Amnesty International today. Kidnappings of civilians by militias, often for ransom, have risen sharply since 2014, particularly in the west of the country, where hundreds have gone missing and abductions have become a feature of daily life.
Among the latest victims to go missing is Tripoli University professor Dr. Salem Mohamed Beitelmal, who was abducted over two weeks ago not far from his home in the area of Siyyad on the outskirts of Tripoli. His whereabouts remain unknown and his family have had no contact with him since his abduction.
Closing the EU’s southern sea borders would put thousands of refugees and migrants setting sail from Libya at risk of detention and appalling human rights abuses, Amnesty International warned as European leaders meet in Malta tomorrow to secure an EU-Libya migration plan. The plan was first proposed late last month by the European Commission to ‘manage migration’ on the Central Mediterranean route.
The EU naval operations Sophia and Triton would in practice delegate search and rescue of refugees and migrants by sharing information about the location of the migrant and refugee boats to the Libyan Coast Guard, facilitating their interception and return to Libya.
Fears are growing for hundreds of civilians who are trapped in a Benghazi neighbourhood which faces intensified fighting after several months under military blockade, Amnesty International said today.
The organization has gathered testimony from some of the 130 Libyan families and hundreds of foreign nationals who have been trapped for months in the residential district of Ganfouda, in south-west Benghazi. All entry roads are blocked by the fighting or Libyan National Army forces, and food, water and electricity supplies have been cut off.
“Time is running out for civilians in Ganfouda, who are being left to die trapped by the fighting. While bombs and shells continue to rain down on them, civilians are struggling to survive on rotten food and dirty water. And the sick and wounded must make due with dwindling supplies of expired medicines,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
Airstrikes by the Libyan National Army are endangering the lives of scores of detainees who are being held captive in Benghazi, said Amnesty International.
The organization raised the alarm as new video evidence emerged showing three men who were among an estimated 130 people abducted by the armed group Ansar al-Sharia from a military prison in Benghazi in October 2014. In the video, the first time they’ve been seen since they went missing, the men call for an end to the airstrikes which they say have injured several people and are putting lives at risk.
“Scores of people who were abducted and are being held captive in Benghazi are trapped under fire with no way out. Carrying out airstrikes in a manner that ignores their presence violates international humanitarian law. Those carrying out attacks must take all feasible precautions to avoid or at least minimise harm to people who are not directly participating in the fighting,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
Horrifying accounts of sexual violence, killings, torture and religious persecution collected by Amnesty International reveal the shocking range of abuses along the smuggling routes to and through Libya. The organization spoke to at least 90 refugees and migrants at reception centres in Puglia and Sicily, who had made the journey across the Mediterranean from Libya to southern Italy in the past few months, and who were abused by people smugglers, traffickers, organized criminal gangs and armed groups.
“From being abducted, incarcerated underground for months and sexually abused by members of armed groups, to being beaten, exploited or shot at by people smugglers, traffickers or criminal gangs - refugees and migrants have described in harrowing detail the horrors they were forced to endure in Libya,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“Their experiences paint a terrifying picture of the conditions many of those who come to Europe are so desperate to escape.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.