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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Attack on Libyan migrant detention centre by the Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

03 July 2019

3 July 2019

“I am shocked by the death and injury of dozens of migrants and refugees in Tajoura Detention Centre which was reportedly hit by an airstrike last night. The fact that the coordinates of this detention facility, and the knowledge that it housed civilians had been communicated to the parties to the conflict, indicates that this attack may, depending on the precise circumstances, amount to a war crime.

This is the second time that the detention centre, which houses around 600 people, has been hit during the current hostilities. I urge all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, and to take all possible measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and detention facilities.

The principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution must at all times be fully respected. Parties to a conflict are obliged to take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population under their control against the effects of attack, including by avoiding locating military objectives close to civilian objects.

I have repeatedly called for the closure of all migrant detention centres in Libya, where UN human rights staff have documented severe overcrowding, torture, ill-treatment, forced labour, rape, and acute malnutrition, among other serious human rights violations. I also repeat my call for the release of detained migrants and refugees as a matter of urgency, and for their access to humanitarian protection, collective shelters or other safe places, well away from areas that are likely to be affected by the hostilities.”  


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