Both the government of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and the newly formed National Transitional Council (NTC) [website] have committed war crimes during the conflict in the country, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, in PDF] Tuesday. The report alleges the Gaddafi regime has:
committed serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), including war crimes, and gross human rights violations, which point to the commission of crimes against humanity . . . Members and supporters of the opposition, loosely structured under the leadership of the National Transitional Council (NTC), based throughout the conflict in Benghazi, have also committed human rights abuses, in some cases amounting to war crimes, albeit on a smaller scale.The organization warned that if the NTC fails to address these allegations, violations of international law could continue to occur. Foreign nationals, specifically those from sub-Saharan Africa who are being held in detainment camps, are at particular risk of suffering from abuse according to the report. AI called on the NTC to make the investigation of those suspected of perpetrating human rights abuses a top priority. The organization warned that without an investigation "justice would not be done and a vicious cycle of abuses and reprisals risks being perpetuated. ... Libyans have had to endure great suffering for decades. They deserve to participate in the building of a new Libya where these kinds of abuses are no longer repeated."
Allegations of war crimes and human rights violations have been widespread during the conflict in Libya. On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] sent a letter [text, PDF] to the UN Security Council (UNSC) [official website] seeking the formation of a mission to provide assistance [JURIST report] to the new post-conflict authorities in Libya. Last month, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Libyan troops used children as human shields [JURIST report] to deter attacks by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website]. Also last month, Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdad Ali Al-Mahmoudi requested that the UN create a "high-level commission" to investigate alleged human rights abuses [JURIST report] by NATO. In June, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] decided to extend a mandate to an investigative panel instructing it to continue its investigation of human rights abuses in Libya, after it published a 92-page report [JURIST reports]. The report claims Libyan authorities have committed crimes against humanity such as acts constituting murder, imprisonment and other severe deprivations of physical liberties, torture, forced disappearances and rape "as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack." The Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since February.