UN: Libya’s Tarhuna could have 100 mass graves | News

A United Nations report details how Kaniyat militia fighters executed and imprisoned hundreds of people between 2016-2020.

A UN-designated mission to Libya says there are “probable mass graves” yet to be investigated, possibly as high as 100, in a town where hundreds of bodies have been found. .

The report to be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council this week details how fighters from the Kaniyat militia Enforcement and imprisoned hundreds of people between 2016 and 2020, sometimes holding them in small oven-like structures called “boxes,” which were laid down during interrogations.

Evidence of kidnappings, murders and torture in Tarhuna, uncovered by the independent truth-seeking mission, is one of the most egregious examples of human rights abuses during a tumultuous period since when Muammar Gaddafi was deposed in 2011.

Among the victims were people with disabilities, as well as women and children, the 51-page report said.

Based on resident testimony and two site visits, the mission found “reasonable grounds” that the Kaniyat militia had committed crimes against humanity. It identified four commanders directly involved in them.

Libyan authorities have recovered 247 bodies from mass and individual grave sites in the Tarhuna area, western Libya. Many of the victims were still handcuffed and blindfolded.

The mission used satellite imagery showing signs of soil disturbance and other evidence to identify three new potential locations. But there could be much more, it said, citing an existing grave known as the “Dump” where only a small portion of the site has been investigated.

“According to insider knowledge, there could still be as many as 100 undiscovered mass graves,” the report said.

It remains unclear how the results of the study will reflect on the Libyan authorities. Libya’s diplomatic mission in Geneva has not made a statement on the matter.

Allied with both governments

At one stage, Kaniyat was affiliated with the Tripoli-based National Treaty Government but later with the eastern Libyan National Army, led by General Khalifa Haftar, which attempted to overthrow the National Treaty government. internationally recognized but failed. The warriors no longer hold power in Tarhuna.

Kaniyat’s surviving leaders are mostly believed to have fled to the eastern regions of Libya under Haftar’s control.

In its conclusion, the truth-seeking mission (FFM) called on the Libyan authorities to continue searching for the graves. It also urges them to set up a special court to prosecute international crimes.

Tracy Robinson, one of three leading the 18-man team, said they did not have the resources or authority to investigate the Tarhuna graves alone. “It is the duty of the state to act,” she told journalists in Geneva.

The report mentions difficulties for the cooperation of the Libyan authorities in the past. Diplomats and UN sources told Reuters that Libya had previously expressed reservations about continuing with the mission, which expires this month.

A resolution is now being put before the Geneva-based panel to continue the investigation for another nine months, less than some had hoped.

A decision is expected this week, and if successful, FFM members said they intend to submit further evidence, a final report and a confidential list of individual suspects to the panel by next year.

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