Armed groups, some affiliated with rival governments vying for legitimacy and territorial control, detained, tortured, “disappeared,” and unlawfully killed people with impunity in Libya during 2016, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2017.
The ongoing warfare created a humanitarian crisis. Nearly 500,000 people are internally displaced, the economy and judicial system have collapsed, and hundreds of thousands of foreign migrants and asylum-seekers risk harsh detention and torture as they transit through Libya in the hope of reaching Europe.
Although weakened, Islamist militants, including fighters who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), continue to control territory and commit abuses.
“Abuses by armed groups in Libya have gone unchecked for the past five years as warlords grow stronger while living conditions for ordinary civilians deteriorate,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “While there is no magic for Libya, countries supportive of parties to the internal conflict need to cut off aid to those responsible for abuses and impose sanctions on them.”
In the 687-page World Report, its 27th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that a new generation of authoritarian populists seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights as an impediment to the majority will. For those who feel left behind by the global economy and increasingly fear violent crime, civil society groups, the media, and the public have key roles to play in reaffirming the values on which rights-respecting democracy has been built.
Six years after the 2011 Libyan revolt against the strongman Muammar Gaddafi, militias and armed forces affiliated with the governments in the country’s east and west engaged in arbitrary detention, torture, unlawful killings, and indiscriminate attacks. The security vacuum led to politically motivated abductions as well as kidnappings for profit of politicians, journalists, and ordinary civilians, including children.