On Tuesday, the National Committee for Human Rights in Libya (NCHRL) sounded an alarm over the persistent crime of child recruitment in armed conflicts, supported by official reports and documented instances. These reveal the exploitation of several children, thrust into the frontlines of wars and skirmishes.
Recently, the issue resurfaced when a minor associated with the Operations and Judicial Security Directorate of the Judicial Police, under the Ministry of Justice, was killed during the recent clashes in Tripoli. In addition, circulating images of a child clad in military gear inside an armed vehicle during the recent confrontations further amplify the urgency of the matter.
The NCHRL shed light on a United Nations report highlighting the surge in child soldier recruitment in Libya. These are not just limited to local Libyan groups, but span across various armed factions, pushing them into combat roles.
A March report from the UN Fact-Finding Mission indicated Libya’s violation of its obligations under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the Convention regarding child involvement in hostilities.
Moreover, it underscored that the risk is not confined to Libyan children alone. Migrant and refugee children in Libya are increasingly ensnared, facing an even more pronounced threat, especially as many lack formal identification, complicating their access to legal safeguards.
Investigative efforts into child recruitment and the ensuing prosecution of culprits are being hampered. The challenges stem from inadequate documented evidence, amplified by restrictions on NGO’s and monitoring personnel within Libya, as highlighted by a prior report from the World Peace Organisation.
In response, the NCHRL has appealed to the International Sanctions Committee specific to Libya to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions 2174, 2259, 2570, and 2571. These directives are designed to address individuals and entities violating international law or human rights in Libya, or those endangering the nation’s peace, stability, and political progression.
Furthermore, it has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to undertake exhaustive investigations into all violent acts and armed conflicts perpetrated in Libya, particularly in Tripoli, over recent years.
Given the evident inertia of Libyan judicial and executive entities to spearhead genuine probes, this move seeks to terminate the prevailing impunity, hold offenders accountable, and safeguard the rights of victims—predominantly innocent civilians recurrently targeted in these conflicts.