Armed forces allied to internationally recognized government fight with armed group in Tripoli, Libya September 22, 2018. 

© 2018 Hani Amara/Reuters

(New York) – Global leaders should ensure that human rights concerns and accountability are integral to talks for a political settlement between warring factions in Libya, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. The ministerial meeting convened by France will be held during the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2019.

Armed conflicts since early April between groups affiliated with the Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of General Khalifa Hiftar, and groups affiliated with the UN-backed Government of National Accord, have resulted in the deaths of at least 100 civilians. The conflict has displaced more than 120,000 people from their homes and destroyed civilian infrastructure. Armed groups in Libya have been operating with near-impunity since the end of the 2011 revolution while the domestic criminal justice sector has become dysfunctional.

“France and Le Drian should not avoid a public commitment to hold civilian and military officials in Libya accountable for the most serious human rights abuses,” said Bénédicte Jeannerod, France director at Human Rights Watch. “Insisting that a political settlement can be based on impunity will come back to haunt leaders as violations continue.”

Human Rights Watch has since 2011 documented serious violations of international law in Libya including mass forced displacement, long-term arbitrary detention without charge, abductions and enforced disappearances, and torture. Human Rights Watch has also documented systematic and widespread abuses against migrants and asylum seekers held by smugglers and traffickers and in detention centers run by the Interior Ministry of the Government of National Accord. Abuses included forced labor, rape, deprivation of food and water, and beatings.

Global leaders should sanction reported rampant violations of the UN arms embargo against Libya, Human Rights Watch said. The violations have allowed weapons and ammunition to fall into the hands of groups that are committing serious crimes. Global leaders should also support Libyan and international nongovernmental organizations’ call for an international body to investigate human rights violations in Libya.