Rights group reports Libya abuses

Amnesty International details 'crimes against humanity' committed by both Gaddafi forces and NTC fighters.

    Amnesty International alleges that both parties in Libya's conflict have committed war crimes [EPA]

    Amnesty International has released a report on human rights abuses committed during the movement to topple Libyan fugitive leader Muammar Gaddafi.

    The 122-page report released on Tuesday consisted mainly of damning examples of violations by Gaddafi's regime, saying the strongman's forces are guilty of crimes against humanity, but it also says the National Transition Council (NTC) is guilty of human rights violations, and appears unwilling to hold its fighters accountable for them.

    "The NTC is facing a difficult task of reigning in opposition fighters and vigilante groups responsible for serious human rights abuses, including possible war crimes; but has shown unwillingness to hold them accountable," Amnesty said.

    "The important thing is that these abuses should not happen," Claudio Cordone, senior director of Amnesty International, told Al Jazeera. "For example we saw former members of the internal security services of Gaddafi being taken away from their homes and being killed the next day and people have not yet been brought to justice."

    "Right now our main concern is the situation in the detention centers. They are still controlled by the local armed groups, there is no judicial process and people are being badly treated in these centers, and we would like to see the NTC take control and put these centers under the authority of the Ministry of Justice," he said.

    "We do have a conflict in Libya that is still on-going, and people must respect the rules of conflict, and if you torture or kill someone after capture, this is torture and this is a war crime," said Cordone.

    "Opposition officials with whom Amnesty International raised these concerns condemned such abuses, though they have often downplayed their extent and gravity," it added.

    "Opposition fighters and supporters have abducted, arbitrarily detained, tortured and killed former members of the security forces, suspected Gaddafi loyalists, captured soldiers and foreign nationals wrongly suspected of being mercenaries fighting on behalf of Gaddafi's forces," Amnesty said.

    Executions, detentions, torture

    Amnesty detailed one incident at the beginning of the uprising in which a number of Gaddafi soldiers were "beaten to death, at least three were hanged, and others were shot dead after they had been captured or had surrendered".

    The report also detailed cases of what appeared to be summary executions, arbitrary detention and torture of individuals associated with the Gaddafi regime.

    Aly Abuzaakouk, the president of the Libya Human and Political Development Forum, told Al Jazeera that while he is skeptical of some of the reports, but that the transitional government should be accountable in the case that Amnesty's allegations are true.

    "The liberation of Tripoli has gone almost according to the book with very few incidents that have been reported of abuses or atrocities," he said.

    "I would not condone any atrocities that is documented... These are things that will blemish our image.
    "The new Libya should be governed by the rule of law and the independent judiciary."

    Amnesty acknowledged that the war crimes allegedly committed by the now governing opposition were of a "smaller scale" than that of Gaddafi regime, which it says may be responsible for crimes against humanity.

    Amnesty collected evidence of indiscriminate attacks on civilians by pro-Gaddafi forces using rockets, mortars, artillery and tanks.

    In one incident in the northwest city of Misurata, a barrage of rockets hit a house and killed two children aged three and one in their bedroom.

    "I heard an explosion and ran back to the children's bedroom when a second rocket smashed into the house," their mother Safia Abdallah Shahit told Amnesty. "I found them buried under the rubble."

    The Amnesty report, entitled "The Battle for Libya - Killings, Disappearances and Tortures", is the most recent document to give detailed accounts of violations in Libya.

    Eastern European nationals executed

    Meanwhile, a Zagreb newspaper reported that Libyan fighters have executed nine Croatian and 12 Serbian mercenaries who fought with Gaddafi forces.

    The daily Vecernji List quoting a NTC fighter as a source, said the mercenaries were seized in a Libyan insurance building in Misurata.

    There were additional mercenaries slain from Bosnia, Ukraine, Russia and Colombia, the newspaper said.

    Many experienced soldiers from the wars in the former Yugoslavia reportedly went to Libya to fight with Gaddafi's forces.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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