UN rights office urges protection of civilians in Libya conflict

UN rights office urges protection of civilians in Libya conflict

A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [JURIST report] called [press release] on Libya Tuesday to ensure human rights abuses are not occurring in the current conflict in the oil crescent area of Eastern Libya. According to the UN, tensions have increased since the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Benghazi Defence Brigade (BDB) clashed earlier this month. The fighting has led to accusations of targeting civilians, extrajudicial killings, torture and other crimes. Some individuals are reporting their family members have been disappeared by government forces in retaliation. The UN is encouraging the government of Libya to ensure these incidents do not escalate into a larger crisis:

We are deeply alarmed that the fighting and air strikes by the LNA may continue to escalate in the coming days, leading to further human rights abuses against civilians. We urge all parties to the conflict to fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law and to take all possible precautions to ensure civilians are not harmed and to treat all detainees humanely. We also urge all those with influence to work to de-escalate the situation.

Libya has remained politically unstable since the 2011 deposition of Muammar Gaddafi [JURIST backgrounder] and subsequent civil war. 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].