Libya Human Rights Report on Civilian Casualties - July 2017

Human Rights Casualties Report - July 2017

(Photo credit: UNSMIL/Iason Athanasiadis)

1 Aug 2017

Libya Human Rights Report on Civilian Casualties - July 2017

Tunis, 1 August 2017 – From 1 July to 31 July 2017, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) documented 36 civilian casualties - 15 deaths and 21 injuries – during the conduct of hostilities across Libya. Victims included 7 men killed and 12 injured, 4 women killed and 5 injured and 4 children killed and 4 children injured.

Civilian Casualties

The majority of civilian casualties were caused by a shelling (8 deaths and 6 injuries), followed by explosive remnants of war (5 deaths and 7 injuries), gunfire (2 deaths and 3 injuries) and other explosives (5 injuries).

UNSMIL documented 6 deaths and 10 injuries in Benghazi, 5 deaths and 6 injuries in Tripoli, 2 deaths in Garabulli, 1 death in Zawiya, 1 death in Warshafana and 5 injured in Misrata.

The civilian casualties included members of a family killed and injured (2 women and 3 children killed, 3 women and 3 children injured) from shelling on a beach in Tripoli on 4 July and a 3 year-old child killed in cross fire between Zawiya and Warshafana on 3 July. 2 men were killed and an unknown number of civilians injured during heavy armed clashes in Garabulli between Misratan armed group and allies against Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, Central Security Directorate (Tripoli branch) and other Tripoli-based armed groups. In Benghazi this included the death of one woman and two men caused by an explosive remnant of war (ERW), one man died as a result of a landmine and a woman was killed by a stray bullet.

Civilian Facilities

On 3 July, a Benghazi diabetes clinic was hit by a shell. There were no civilian casualties, but there was material damage to the clinic.


The Martyr Yousef Al-Buni armed group is reported to be responsible for the deaths and injuries of the family on the beach in Tripoli. Misrata-led armed groups are reported to be responsible for the civilian deaths and injuries in Garabulli.

UNSMIL was unable to determine with certainty which parties to the conflict caused the other civilian casualties in May.

Other Casualties

On 4 July, the bodies of 19 Egyptian migrants, including one 17 year-old boy, were found south of Tobruk. It appeared that a number had died from thirst. The circumstances surrounding the case remain unknown.

On 8 July, a woman and child were killed and 8 people were injured from stray bullets from shooting in the air during celebrations for the liberation of Benghazi. On 11 and 23 July, two attempted car thefts, in Sabha and Zawiya respectively, left the two car owners and one of the perpetrators dead.

On 22 July, a heavily armed group, Abu Aaza, allied with the Abdul Ghani al-Kikli armed group, raided the Tarik al-Matar Tawergha internally displaced persons camp in Tripoli, apparently looking for youth who had been involved in crimes. They exchanged fire with some youths and injured one Tawerghan camp resident. Reports indicated that they also shelled one house in the camp, but there were no casualties.

During July, three videos emerged on social media depicting summary executions, torture and ill-treatment by Libyan National Army forces. The first video that emerged in 6 July depicted LNA forces brutally beating a detainee and kicking him around the head. The second showed the beating of two detainees in the presence of a Benghazi commander of the Special Forces, Mahmoud al-Werfalli. The third video appeared to show the shooting dead of 20 men, dressed in orange jumpsuits, kneeling on the ground in the presence of Mahmoud al-Werfalli on 17 July. The video was posted on Mahmoud al-Werfalli’s FaceBook page.  

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 to all relevant locations in Libya to obtain information. 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.