Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Tuesday that members of the Libyan National Army (LNA) may have committed war crimes [press release] in Benghazi on and around March 18. Benghazi has been center of stand-off between the LNA and the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) for almost two years. On March 18, dozens of civilians attempted to flee the Ganfouda neighborhood of the city. Some of the civilians were accompanied by BRSC soldiers. Relatives of some of the civilians who fled stated that LNA fighters had intercepted roughly seven fleeing families, attacking and killing some of them and arresting others. There have also been photos and videos of LNA fighters mutilating and desecrating the corpses of BRSC fighters. LNA leadership has made statements denouncing the actions of those fighters. The LNA has stated that they will arrest those who have committed the violations. The LNA has also justified some other actions believed to be war crimes. This includes a video of an LNA captain shooting three restrained men in the back with a machine gun as they kneeled facing a wall.
Libya has been politically unstable since the 2011 disposition of Muammar Gaddafi [JURIST backgrounder] and subsequent civil war. Earlier this month, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] urged [JURIST report] Libyan officials to ensure human rights are not violated in the country. In September the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore spoke on the deteriorating human rights situation [JURIST report] in Libya and called for accountability and reform. Earlier last year the UN released a report detailing a “litany of violations and abuses” being committed by both state and non-state actors in Libya that may amount to war crimes [JURIST report].