TRIPOLI, March 2, 2012 (AFP)
TRIPOLI, March 2, 2012 (AFP)
Libyan forces who battled Moamer Kadhafi’s troops in 2011 committed war crimes and are still targeting alleged backers of the dead dictator and minority groups, a draft United Nations report published on Friday said.
In its second report, the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya concluded that “thuwar (anti-Kadhafi forces) committed serious violations, including war crimes and breaches of international human rights law” in 2011.
“Breaches of international human rights law continue to occur in a climate of impunity,” including unlawful executions, arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearance, indiscriminate attacks and pillage, according to an advance unedited version of the report submitted to the UN Council on Human Rights.
While Kadhafi’s forces were guilty of similar crimes throughout last year’s conflict, subjecting towns and cities across Libya to “sustained shelling” and “indiscriminate” attacks, rebel fighters were quick to adopt similar tactics.
The report found that revolutionary brigades indiscriminately shelled Kadhafi strongholds, particularly his home town of Sirte where the veteran leader was eventually captured and killed along with his son Mutassim on October 20.
“The scale of the destruction there (Sirte) and the nature of the weaponry employed indicated that the attacks were indiscriminate,” read the report, which also highlighted a brutal siege against the port of Misrata by Kadhafi loyalists.
An estimated 65 to 78 Kadhafi soldiers were executed the same month at the Mahari Hotel in Sirte by revolutionary brigades from Misrata, it said.
Since the fall of Kadhafi, militias have targeted Kadhafi loyalists — those perceived to have fought for or favored the former regime, the report found.
It documented 12 cases of perceived Kadhafi loyalists who died in custody after being tortured.
There are an estimated 8,000 detainees currently in custody in Libya, the report stated, urging the new authorities to bring all detainees under the authority of judicial or military police.
“Thuwar have been involved in arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of perceived Kadhafi loyalists, security officers and members of the former government,” it read.
The report also documented a pattern of “severe torture” perpetrated in particular against Tawarghans” by Misrata brigades, who accuse the minority group of rape and other crimes in Misrata.
Brigades from Misrata arrested and beat 85 Tawargha men last August after the fall of Tripoli, and arrested another dozens more in September, it said.
The report cited eyewitnesses as saying that as recently as February 6, Misrata brigades attacked a camp for displaced people in Tripoli, killing five members of the dark-skinned minority, including a woman and three minors.
Such attacks enjoy complete impunity, it stated, noting the absence of a functioning court system as a key obstacle.
Rights groups also say the Tawargha and other minorities have been the focus of reprisal attacks by militias across Libya.
Racism and the belief that Kadhafi used sub-Saharan mercenaries during the war have made dark-skinned Libyans and black Africans a recurring target, they say.
The UN report said an organized group of Sudanese fighters was brought in by Kadhafi, but these did not meet the UN definition of a “mercenary,” as they received similar pay as regular troops.
Fighters of “foreign descent,” either born in or living in Libya, also fought with Kadhafi’s forces but cannot be considered mercenaries, added the report, which also documented the use by both sides of child soldiers.
The report, based on the findings of a commission investigating war crimes allegedly committed by both sides during the conflict, expressed particular concern over the failure of the new authorities to hold former rebels accountable.
“Libyan authorities can break with the Kadhafi legacy by enforcing the law equally, investigating all abuses — irrespective of the perpetrator,” it concluded.