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War crimes and crimes against humanity in Libya according to the UN

War crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Libya since 2016, particularly against migrants and in prisons, a UN expert fact-finding mission concluded after an on-site investigation. The mission composed of three experts, Mohamed Auajjar, Chaloka Beyani and Tracy Robinson, gathered hundreds of documents, interviewed 150 people and carried out the investigation in Libya itself, but also in Tunisia and Italy.

This independent mission, however, decided not to publish “the list of individuals and groups (both Libyans and foreigners) who could be responsible for the violations, abuses and crimes committed in Libya since 2016”. “This confidential list will remain so, until the need to publish or share it” emerges with other bodies that can hold those responsible to account. The authors of the report note that Libyan justice is also investigating most of the cases raised by the UN mission, but note that “the process to punish people guilty of violations or mistreatment faces significant challenges.”

Crimes against humanity in prisons and against migrants

Experts highlight the dramatic situation in Libyan prisons, where detainees are sometimes tortured daily and families prevented from visiting. Arbitrary detention in secret prisons and in unbearable conditions is used by the state and militias against all those who are perceived to be a threat. “Violence is used on such a scale in Libyan prisons and to such a degree of organization that it can also potentially constitute a crime against humanity,” said Tracy Robinson.

The mission also emphasizes the multiple forms of violence suffered by migrants, who often try their luck to reach Europe from the Libyan coast. “Our survey shows that attacks against migrants are committed on a large scale by state and non-state actors, with a high degree of organization and with the encouragement of the state – all aspects which suggest that ‘these are crimes against humanity,’ denounces Chaloka Beyani. This violence therefore takes place as much at the hands of the traffickers as in the detention centers run by the Libyan state.

Finally, the mission underlines that “civilians have paid a heavy price” to the violence which has been tearing Libya apart for the past 5 years, in particular due to attacks on schools and hospitals. “The air raids killed dozens of families. The destruction of health infrastructure has had an impact on access to healthcare and the anti-personnel mines left by mercenaries in residential areas have killed and injured civilians ”, underlines the report to be presented to the Human Rights Council. of man in Geneva – the highest UN body in this field – on October 7.

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