Human Rights Report on Civilian Casualties - June 2016
Tunis, 1 July 2016 – From 1 June to 30 June 2016, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) documented 49 civilian casualties, including 18 deaths and 31 injuries, during the conduct of hostilities across Libya. Victims included 4 children killed and 8 injured, 12 men killed and 20 injured and 2 women killed and 3 injured.
The majority of civilian deaths were caused by vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (7 deaths and 19 injured), while the next leading cause of death was air strikes (6 deaths and 7 injured) and then shelling (3 deaths, 2 injured), then gun shots (2 deaths) and explosive remnants of war (3 injured).
UNSMIL documented 10 deaths and 24 injured in Benghazi, 6 deaths and 7 injured in Derna and 2 deaths in Tripoli.
The Libyan National Army/Libyan Air Force confirmed that they had carried out the airstrikes in Derna and said that they will carry out an investigation. UNSMIL was unable to determine with certainty which other parties caused civilian casualties in June.
Medical facilities in Benghazi have been targeted 4 times (1st, 21st, 22nd and 24th of June). Only the car bomb explosion on 24 June, at the entrance of the Al-Jalla hospital in Benghazi, led to casualties, killing 5 people and injuring 13, including 2 children.
UNSMIL also received information on the deaths of two men following their abductions. Their bodies showed signs of torture as well as gunshot wounds to the head and other parts of the body. In another case, a man died in custody, several days after detention. His body showed signs of torture and gunshot wounds. UNSMIL also documented the killing of 12 prisoners on 9 June in Tripoli, after a court ordered their release. The circumstances of the killings are unclear.
It was also reported that two men, who had been detained by the Central Security Force and accused of criminality, were publicly executed in Gaser Bengashire, in the outskirts of Tripoli. Reports indicated that there was no legal process prior to the killings.
Following clashes in Qarabuli, reportedly between Misratan forces and locals, a storage site exploded, reportedly killing dozens of people.
The figures for civilian casualties set out above only include persons killed or injured in the course of hostilities and who were not directly participating in the hostilities. The figures do not include those casualties that are not a direct result of hostilities, for example executions after capture, torture or abductions, or casualties caused as an indirect consequence of hostilities. The figures are based on information UNSMIL has gathered and cross-checked from a broad range of sources in Libya, including human rights defenders, civil society, current and former officials, employees of local governments, community leaders and members, witnesses, others directly affected and media reports. In order to assess the credibility of information obtained, where possible, UNSMIL reviewed documentary information, including medical records, forensic reports and photographic evidence.
The figures are only those that UNSMIL was able to document in the reporting period. They are not likely to be complete and may change as new information emerges about incidents involving civilian casualties that took place during this period.
Similarly, while UNSMIL has systematically tried to ensure that the cases it documented are based on credible information, further verification would be required to attain a higher standard of proof. Due to the security situation, UNSMIL has not been able to carry out direct site visits in Libya to obtain information. Disruption in communications especially in areas controlled by groups pledging allegiance to ISIL and fear of reprisals against sources further hamper information gathering.
While not all actions leading to civilian casualties breach international humanitarian law, UNSMIL reminds all parties to the conflict that they are under an obligation to target only military objectives. Direct attacks on civilians as well as indiscriminate attacks – which do not distinguish between civilians and fighters – are prohibited. Attacks that are expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects excessive to the anticipated concrete and direct military advantage are also prohibited. Such attacks amount to war crimes that can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.
In order to ensure greater protection of the civilian population and essential infrastructure, all parties engaged in fighting in Libya must cease the use of mortars and other indirect weapons and imprecise aerial bombardments in civilian-populated areas, and not place fighters or other military objectives in populated areas. All executions of captives must cease and all those captured including fighters must be treated humanely in all circumstances. Murdering or torturing captives is also a war crime, regardless of what the captive may be accused of.