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Amnesty: Libya militias committing war crimes

[JURIST] Rival militias in Libya are committing serious human rights abuses, including war crimes, according to an Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy group] report [text, PDF; press release] released Thursday. According to AI since July 2013, "militias and armed groups have launched indiscriminate attacks in urban areas of the capital, Warshafana (southwest of Tripoli) and Zawiya with complete disregard for civilians and civilian objects, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to seek protection in safer parts of Libya or across its international borders." The report cites UN High Commission for Refuges [official website] data showing that since October of this year 287,000 people have been displaced in the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi and surrounding areas. According to AI 100,000 people are estimated to have fled Libya to neighboring countries. In addition to allegations of indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations, the AI report also contains allegations of widespread civilian kidnappings carried out by all parties to the conflict. Civilians and captured militia members have provided AI with detailed accounts of torture and ill-treatment in captivity including, "prolonged beatings...electric shock, [and being] suspended in contorted positions for hours." The AI report also provides detailed accounts of alleged summary killings and attacks targeting human rights workers and journalists.

Libya remains politically unstable three years after the 2011 uprising [JURIST backgrounder] and subsequent civil war that deposed former dictator Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary]. Earlier this month Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah [USA Today profile] pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to 17 charges related to the September 2012 attack [WP backgrounder] on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, including some charges that warrant the death penalty. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] condemned [JURIST report] the targeted attacks on human rights groups and activists by armed groups in Libya.

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