The United Nations human rights body has called for the Libyan National Army (LNA) to probe summary executions of prisoners in the eastern parts of North African’s country.
In a news briefing in the Swiss city of Geneva on Tuesday, UN human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell voiced concern about the fate of those still in LNA custody.
“We are deeply concerned that, after recent fighting in Benghazi, people taken prisoner by members of the Libyan National Army, which effectively controls eastern Libya, may be at imminent risk of torture and even summary execution,” media outlets quoted Throssell as saying.
The spokeswoman said reports had suggested the involvement of a unit aligned with the LNA “in torturing detainees and summarily executing at least 10 captured men.”
Throssell said the LNA announced last March that it would conduct investigations into alleged war crimes but had not shared any information.”We urge the LNA to ensure there is a full, impartial investigation into these allegations.”
Throssell also called on the group to suspend Mahmoud al-Werfalli from his duties as a Special Forces field commander pending the conclusion of such an investigation.
In March, a video circulating on social media allegedly showed Werfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling and facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs. In June, two other videos appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA fighters on his orders.
“One of these videos, which emerged on 9 June, shows four men kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs who are shot dead as al-Werfalli watches,” the spokeswoman said, adding, “The latest video, which was posted on social media this month, seems to shows LNA fighters kicking and taunting prisoners, while al-Werfalli is apparently heard accusing two men who have their hands tied behind their backs of belonging to terrorist groups.”
The LNA has been vying for control with forces linked to the UN-backed government in Tripoli and other opponents.
LNA leader Khalifa Haftar has gained ground with Egyptian and Emirati support.
Libya’s eastern commander, Haftar, does not recognize the authority of Tripoli-based UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). He instead backs an alternate government based in the country’s east.
In June, the United Nations Security Council accused the United Arab Emirates of breaching an arms embargo on Libya by sending attack helicopters, attack aircraft, and armored vehicles to troops commanded by the self-styled General Haftar.
It was not clear if and what measures would be taken against the UAE for the breach of the international arms embargo.
Libya has faced a power vacuum since a NATO military intervention resulted in the downfall of its longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country has been grappling with chaos and the emergence of numerous militant groups, including Takfiri terrorist group Daesh.
Haftar was an ally of Gaddafi but joined the Libyan revolution against the dictator in 2011.
The country now has two governments, one based in the capital Tripoli and the other based in the far east in the city of Tobruk. The government in Tripoli is internationally recognized but both Haftar and the eastern-based parliament refuse to recognize it.
By Africafrique and agencies