Biden Administration urged to ditch “international isolationism” of Trump which abandoned Libya
The Biden Administration must ditch the “international isolation” of President Trump, which abandoned Libya to years of chaos and war crimes, say human rights group.
The Group, the International United Nations Watch (IUNW), believes that the US and its allies, Britain and France, which supported the removal of the Gaddafi regime failed to stabilise the country and have largely ignored the bloody civil war and killing of civilians in the conflict.
In their latest report, Mass Graves in Libya: Parties involved and the role of the UN, the group call for an urgent investigation into the activities of Russia and the UAE, which they claim supplied rebel forces loyal to Major General Khalifa Haftar with weapons, breaking the international arms embargo.
These weapons were subsequently used against civilians and have been linked to war crimes, including a series of mass graves containing the bodies of non-combatants – men, women and children – that have recently been uncovered.
“The arms embargo approved by the UN Security Council in 2011 remains in effect, but no party has been punished for violating it,” it says.
“Violations of the laws of war by the armed forces and associated foreign forces have been documented, including disproportionate and indiscriminate artillery bombardment, airstrikes and drone strikes that have killed and injured hundreds of civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure. The forces have also used cluster munitions, landmines and internationally banned booby traps in the southern suburbs of Tripoli.
“Torture, field executions, and mutilation of the corpses of fighters were also documented by these fighters. There are recent reports that at least eight mass graves have been discovered in the town of Tarhuna, southeast of Tripoli, and other sites on the outskirts of Tripoli contain an unknown number of bodies. The Government of National Accord confirmed reports that at least 160 bodies have been discovered in Tarhuna General Hospital, some of which may have been victims of war crimes. Tarhuna was under the control of the al-Kani Militia [a militia loyal to Major General Haftar].”
Maya Garner, a Spokesperson for the IUNW commented: “The US and its allies, along with the wider international community have a moral and legal responsibility to the people of Libya, after actively facilitating the removal of Colonel Gaddafi’s murderous regime in 2011. Initial efforts were made to support the new Government including the so-called Geneva-Ghadames peace talks in 2015, but since then the US, UK and France have largely abandoned this failing state. At the same time, the UN has been completely ineffective in holding Russia, the UAE and other countries which have been sanction busting to account.
“This has created an environment where international law and its’ practice, including the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war has ceased as evidenced by the growing number of mass graves, containing women, children and men in civilian dress which have been discovered across the country, along with reports of torture.
“These alleged war crimes must be investigated fully by the UN/International Criminal Court and those responsible held to account. This will require strong leadership from the US and its allies, but regrettably, this has been absent during the Trump years as the former President pursued his America First policy.”
The report calls on the UK to stop selling arms to the internationally recognised Government as this is “fueling” the conflict. Between 2008 to 2017, a total of 284 arms licenses were approved by the UK to Libya.
It also sets out a series of recommendations. These include:
· Countries that advocated the removal of the Gaddafi regime, i.e. the UK, France and the US should do more to make Libya stable and investigate mass graves in the country
· The international community should send UN inspectors to oversee the excavation of the mass graves.
· More action to enforce the international arms embargo and calls on the eight countries that eight countries which have breached the rules since 2020 to cease doing so immediately
· All countries supporting militias and mercenaries such as the UAE and Russia should stop doing so immediately
It concludes by saying the international community should bring war criminals responsible for mass graves in Libya to trial at the International Court but has so far failed. “The International Criminal Court, which has a mandate to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Libya since 2011, issued a warrant in 2017 and another in 2018 for the arrest of armed forces commander Mahmoud Al-Warfalli, but he is still free. Al-Werfalli should be immediately handed over to the court. There were no other public warrants for crimes committed after 2011.” It goes on to say that the newly established fact-finding mission that is investigating the mass war graves and other allegations should co-operate with the International Criminal Court in its ongoing investigations.
Ms Garner concluded: “We are deeply concerned that even the supposedly ‘legal’ sale of arms to the internationally recognised Government or forces linked to them, by countries including the UK is fueling this conflict and preventing de-escalation. The arms embargo should apply to all sides and a renewed effort must be made to drive all sides to the negotiating table and compromise. This will only happen if the new President and his administration view Libya as a priority and ditch the international isolationism advanced by his predecessor.
“Alongside the search for peace, the international community must hold those responsible to account over the allegations of war crimes, including torture, indiscriminate shelling of civilians and the execution of non-combatants – men women and children – whose bodies have been found in unmarked mass graves and those who facilitated this via the supply of arms.”