International rights group unearth evidence of potential war crimes in Libya


After an in-depth investigation, Amnesty International (AI) has recently revealed the ongoing battle for Tripoli have killed and maimed scores of civilians by launching indiscriminate attacks and using a range of inaccurate explosive weapons in populated urban areas.

The AI team that conducted the investigation in 33 air and ground strike sites in Tripoli and surrounding areas since fighting broke out on 4 April, unearthed evidence of potential war crimes by both the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), who have been fighting in and around the city.

“Our on-the-ground investigation on both sides of the frontline revealed a systematic disregard for international law fuelled by the continued supply of weapons to both sides in violation of a UN arms embargo,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

In addition, Brian Castner, AI’s Senior Crisis Adviser on Arms and Military Operations revealed that “scores of civilians have been killed and injured as both sides use everything from Gaddafi-era unguided rockets to modern drone-launched guided missiles in attacks that could amount to war crimes”.

Amnesty International investigators were on the ground in Libya from August 1 to 14, and visited both sides of the conflict in and around Tripoli, Tajoura, Ain Zara, Qasr Bin Ghashir and Tarhouna. The group has interviewed 156 residents, including survivors, witnesses and relatives of victims, as well as local officials, medical workers and members of militias.

The human rights experts also carried out an open source investigation into many of the strikes using remote sensing, weapons and ordnance, photographic and video verification, and members of its Digital Verification Corps.

GNA and LNA officials have not responded to questions Amnesty International sent about their strikes.

According to UN statistics, the fighting over the last six months has killed and wounded more than 100 civilians – including dozens of detained migrants and refugees – and has displaced more than 100,000.

Air strikes, artillery barrages and shelling have struck civilian homes and other key infrastructure, including several field hospitals, a school, and a migrant detention centre, and have forced the closure of the Mitiga airport, Tripoli’s sole international air link. Some of the attacks documented were either indiscriminate or disproportionate – meaning they violated fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and could amount to war crimes. In other cases, the presence of fighters at or near civilian homes and medical facilities endangered civilians there, said the rights group.

Children as young as two years old playing outside their homes, mourners attending a funeral, and ordinary people going about their daily activities were among those unlawfully killed or injured.

Despite a comprehensive UN arms embargo in place since 2011, Amnesty International claims the UAE and Turkey have been supporting the LNA and GNA, respectively, through illicit arms transfers and direct military support.

“The international community must uphold the UN arms embargo, which Turkey, the UAE, Jordan and other countries have flagrantly violated,” said Castner.

GNA and LNA officials have not responded to questions Amnesty International sent about their strikes. (Source: Amnesty International)