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Press briefing note on Libya

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani

Location: Geneva

Date: 14 March 2017

Subject: Libya

Since the outbreak of hostilities in the oil crescent area in eastern Libya on 3 March this year, we have been receiving numerous reports of serious violations and abuses of international human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the parties to the conflict. Credible reports suggest that unlawful killings, including summary executions, hostage-taking, arbitrary detentions, torture, as well as widespread raids of civilian homes have been occurring, particularly in the towns of Ajdabiya, Benghazi, Brega and Beishir.

The two main armed groups fighting for control of the eastern oil crescent at the moment are the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Benghazi Defence Brigade (BDB). On 3 March, the BDB and its supporters attacked the oil crescent area and took it over from the LNA. The LNA has responded with repeated airstrikes in the area.

We have received serious allegations that two LNA fighters were summarily executed in the Ras Lanuf medical centre on 3 March. This was followed by the widespread raids by the LNA of homes of presumed BDB supporters or fighters and the detention of their family members. Reportedly, more than 100 men and boys were detained during LNA raids. LNA fighters beat and insulted men and women and stole money and other property from the houses. They have detained boys as young as 13 years old, and men in their 70s. In one case, the LNA detained a 13-year-old boy who was held in order to force the family to hand over his older brother, who was suspected of being a fighter aligned with the BDB. Those detained are being held incommunicado, and many families have said they have no information on the whereabouts of male relatives who have been detained. We have received reports that those detained have been subjected to torture and threats. 

We are deeply alarmed that the fighting and air strikes by the LNA may continue to escalate in the coming days, leading to further human rights abuses against civilians. We urge all parties to the conflict to fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law and to take all possible precautions to ensure civilians are not harmed and to treat all detainees humanely. We also urge all those with influence to work to de-escalate the situation.


For more information and media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org )  or Liz Throssell  ( +41 22 917 9466/ ethrossell@ohchr.org ) or Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org)

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