UN rights expert: Libya situation ‘deteriorating rapidly’
UN rights expert: Libya situation ‘deteriorating rapidly’

[JURIST] Head of the United States Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) [official website] Bernardino León on Wednesday warned [transcript] the UN Security Council [official website] that without intervention from the international community and UN, Libya is likely to become unstable in the wake of repeated terrorist attacks. León urged the international community to heed Libyan pleas for assistance. Among his main concerns was the presence of the Islamic State (IS) [JURIST backgrounder] in Libya, a group he believes “will stop at nothing … to consolidate their presence and influence in Libya.” The UN remarks come in the wake of deadly IS bombings in Al-Qubbah [JURIST report] in February and the group’s seizure of three Libyan oil fields [BBC report] earlier this week. León concluded that “the Libyan people have not given up on their hopes and aspirations for a modern Libyan democratic state based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.”

Much of the escalating violence in Libya is attributable to IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The group has caused increasing international alarm over its human rights abuses [JURIST report] since its insurgence into Syria and Iraq in 2013. In February the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned [JURIST report] the group’s beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya. Following February’s IS suicide bombings in Al-Qubbah, the group announced their actions were retaliation against Egyptian airstrikes [JURIST report] protesting the IS presence in Northern Africa. In December the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the IS executed [JURIST report] 1,878 people in Syria between June and December. The Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court stated in November that the ICC is contemplating bringing war crimes charges [JURIST report] against IS jihadist fighters.