UNSMIL expresses concern about increased enforced disappearances in Libya
TRIPOLI, 17 March 2020 - UNSMIL expresses deep concerns over the recent increase in abductions and enforced disappearances in towns and cities across Libya conducted by armed groups with total impunity. The Mission renews its call for the full respect of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by parties to this conflict.
Since April 2019, UNSMIL received reports of hundreds of enforced disappearances, torture, killings and displacement of entire families in Tarhuna city by the 9th Brigade “al-Kaniyat” of a wide variety of persons, including private individuals, state officials, captured fighters and civil society activists. In particular UNSMIL verified numerous summary executions at Tarhuna prison on 13 September by the 9th Brigade. UNSMIL also received dozens of reports of enforced disappearances and torture of civilians, including, but not limited to, civil society activists, journalists, migrants, and state officials by the “Nawasi” and the Special Deterrence Force (SDF).
In addition, the Mission documented many other cases of enforced disappearances. On 12 June 2019, the 9th Brigade “al-Kaniyat” abducted the Mayor of Qasser Bin Ghasheir municipality from his office, reportedly for refusing to handover his post to an individual nominated for the same position by the Brigade. On 17 July, 2019 Siham Sergewa an elected member of the House of Representatives was abducted from her home in Benghazi by armed men. On 29 February this year, the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces abducted a lawyer from the Budizira area in Benghazi, reportedly for publishing an anti-LNA video on social media. He was detained at the military wing of al-Kuweifya prison, in the city.
The Afriqiyah airlines General Manager was abducted on 1 March in Tripoli by the Special Deterrence Force (SDF) and was released on 5 March but abducted again two days later by the SDF. On 2 March, armed men from the “Security Operations Room” of the LNA in Derna arrested the General Manager of al-Harish hospital from his home at al-Sahil al-Shargi, who was reportedly subsequently released. On 11 March an engineer, working on the Great Man Made River was abducted from work, in Brak al-Shati, by an armed group, believed to be the Combatting Terrorism Unit. He was transferred to the Internal Security Unit in Benghazi where he has been reportedly tortured. As of today, the whereabouts of the aforementioned missing abductees remain unknown.
UNSMIL recalls that torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are a violation of international law, the Constitutional Declaration of 2011, domestic applicable law and, depending on the precise circumstances, may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. UNSMIL also calls for the establishment of an investigative mechanism by the UN Human Rights Council, as the simplest and strongest basis for promoting accountability in Libya.
UNSMIL will continue to monitor and document on human rights violations committed across Libya and report them to relevant international entities.