Amnesty Calls For Libya’s Militias to be Held Accountable

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On Thursday, Amnesty International denounced a shocking video depicting an extrajudicial execution, by Libya’s Joint Operations Force (JOF). This is a state-financed militia, also known as Al-Moshtaraka, and it “offers a grim reminder of the deadly consequences of impunity for militias and armed groups in Libya.”

It added that its Crisis Evidence Lab has reviewed footage taken by a security camera in Misrata on 6 March. It shows 27-year-old Altayeb Elsharari running away from armed men, before being gunned down.

“At least one shot was fired from a distance of about seven metres. He can then be seen collapsing on the ground as eight men in military attire surround him, before taking him away in the back of a military car with a visible JOF logo,” it noted.

“This close-range killing in broad daylight is yet another chilling example of the entrenched impunity enjoyed by militias, whose crimes have gone unpunished for far too long. The Libyan authorities must promptly and effectively investigate this extrajudicial execution, and ensure that those responsible are held to account,” said Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“It is shameful that the Libyan authorities are actively rewarding these abusive groups for their criminal behaviour. The authorities must urgently stop financing militias, and integrating militiamen into state institutions without vetting. In order to remove those reasonably suspected of responsibility for crimes under international law,” she added.

Despite these violations, Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba authorized the payment of 100 million LYD ($21.6 million) to the JOF on 10 February 2022, according to financial documents seen by Amnesty. Over the past six years, the organisation has documented a pattern of arbitrary detention by the JOF, wherein they target individuals based on their regional origin, political opinions, or peaceful expression of ideas deemed as being “immoral.”

On 3 March 2022, the JOF detained Hafez Qadoor, a politician opposed to the GNU, before releasing him the next day. He told Libyan media that armed men had attacked him and his staff, firing gunshots haphazardly before arresting them, and taking them into custody.