Libyan rebels must stop reprisal attacks
The National Transitional Council (NTC) must stop reprisal attacks against suspected al-Gaddafi loyalists, Amnesty International warned today as it released a major report into human rights violations during the Libyan conflict.
The 107-page report The Battle for Libya: Killings, Disappearances and Torture reveals that while al-Gaddafi forces committed numerous atrocities during the conflict, forces loyal to the NTC also committed abuses that in some cases amounted to war crimes.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “Dozens of suspected al-Gaddafi loyalists have been killed. Hundreds, especially foreign migrants accused of being mercenaries, are being held prisoner by forces loyal to the NTC.
“Those responsible for the dreadful repression of the past under Colonel al-Gaddafi must face justice. But the NTC has to be held to the same standards and must do more to avoid a vicious cycle of revenge attacks.
“The new authorities must make a complete break with the abuses of the past four decades and set new standards of accountability by putting human rights at the centre of their agenda.”
Amnesty International found evidence that during the conflict al-Gaddafi forces committed war crimes and abuses which may amount to crimes against humanity. These included indiscriminate attacks, mass killing of prisoners, torture, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary arrests. In most cases it was civilians who bore the brunt of these violations.
But the organisation also documented a brutal "settling of scores" by some NTC forces when al-Gaddafi forces were ejected from eastern Libya, including lynchings of al-Gaddafi soldiers after capture.
Dozens of people suspected to be former security agents, al-Gaddafi loyalists or mercenaries have been killed after capture since February in Eastern Libya.
When Al-Bayda, Benghazi, Derna, Misratah and other cities first fell under the control of the NTC in February, anti-Gaddafi forces carried out house raids, killings and other violent attacks against suspected mercenaries, either sub-Saharan Africans or black Libyans.
Foreigners from African countries continue to be particularly at risk. Between a third and a half of all those in detention centres in Tripoli and al-Zawiya are foreign nationals – most of these are migrant workers and not fighters.
Amnesty International, which has taken testimonies from more than 200 detainees since the fall of al-Zawiya and Tripoli, believes that hundreds of people have been taken from their homes, at work, at check-points, or simply from the streets.
Many have been ill-treated upon arrest, being beaten with sticks, backs of rifles, kicked, punched and insulted, at times while blindfolded and handcuffed. In some cases, detainees claimed they were shot after being detained.
Amnesty International found that rumours that al-Gaddafi forces used large numbers of sub-Saharan African mercenaries in February were significantly exaggerated. But NTC officials have done little to correct false assumptions that sub-Saharan Africans were mercenaries.
The organisation welcomed the fact that in May, the NTC issued guidelines for its forces to act in accordance with international law and standards and in August the NTC Chair called on anti-Gaddafi forces to refrain from reprisal attacks. The NTC also sent text messages to Libyan mobile users telling them to avoid revenge attacks and treat detainees with dignity.