UN: Crimes against Humanity Committed in Libya

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The UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya has released a new report in which it reaffirms that serious crimes against humanity were perpetrated in war-torn Libya. It noted that migrant women are often forced to suffer some of the most serious abuses.

The report states that “the UN mission has reasonable grounds to believe that the crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, detention, rape, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts have been committed in various places of detention in Libya since 2016”.

According to the report, authorities, human traffickers and other agents regularly detain migrants in Libya, as they attempt to travel to Europe. Officials, however, continue to deny these reports.

The general sense of anarchy that reigns in the country since Libyan ruler, Muammer Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011 has become a source of opportunity and profit for organized human traffickers.

According to the report, there is substantial evidence showing that migrants and refugees are systematically exposed to “arbitrary prolonged detention” in Libya. This includes sexual abuse and the torture of children.

The investigators who drew up the report after making numerous trips to Libya detailed “murder, torture, rape, and other inhumane acts.” Among other things, the report underlines the common use of “sexual violence at the hands of traffickers, often with the aim of extorting money from families”.

“The mission has also documented cases of rape in places of detention or imprisonment, where migrant women are forced to have sex to survive, in exchange for food or other essential goods,” the document said.

The report adds that many are aware of the risk of being exposed to sexual violence, so much so that “some migrant women and girls put on a contraceptive implant before going there to avoid unwanted pregnancies due to such violence.”

Investigators cite examples of violent migrant abuse in Libya in their report. These range from a woman who details how “her kidnappers asked for sex in exchange for access to water” to summary executions of people, and then dumped in mass graves.

The Fact-Finding Mission mission was created by the UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR) in June 2020, and will see its mandate expire in a few days.

However, several African countries have submitted a draft resolution to the council requesting a nine-month extension. As the situation in Libya remains unstable, and highly dangerous.

Mohammad Aujjar, Head of the mission, says that they have “denounced serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, some of which amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes”.

The mission has also drawn up a list of individuals and groups accused of some of these crimes, but is keeping it confidential for the time being.

“The goal is to end the impunity that prevails in the face of clear and persistent patterns of serious human rights violations, in many cases perpetrated by militia groups,” added Aujjar.

“Now more than ever, the Libyan people need a strong commitment to help them bring lasting peace and justice to their country, and to establish a state based on the rule of law and human rights.”