UN uncovers new mass graves in Libya

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New suspected mass graves have been uncovered in Tarhuna, Libya, a UN Human Rights Council probe reported on Monday.

The research identified persistent, severe human rights violations in the nation that have both affected children and adults.

Mr. Mohamed Auajjar, the Chairman of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, told journalists during a press conference in Geneva that the war-torn nation still had a culture of impunity.

According to Auajjar, this posed “a significant barrier” to national harmony, the truth, and justice for victims and their families.

According to the report, there has been “widespread and systematic perpetration of forced disappearances, extermination, murder, torture, and imprisonment amounting to crimes against humanity” in Tarhuna.

“These were committed by Al Kani (Kaniyat) militias,’’ he said.

Through the use of advanced technology, the mission’s investigations “previously uncovered mass graves in the town,’’ which is around 65 kilometers from Tripoli.

“We don’t know how many people now need to be exhumed, but there have been hundreds of people who have not yet been discovered who have disappeared,’’ he added.

Auajjar said more than 200 individuals are still missing from Tarhuna and the surrounding area, causing “untold anguish to their families, who are entitled to know the truth about the fate of their loved ones’’.

Women and girls have not been spared the fallout of Libya’s destructive spiral since the overthrow of former President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Auajjar said that in spite of recent progress in trying to resolve longstanding differences, the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli was still at odds with a rival administration and parliamentary authority in the east.

He noted that a disturbing finding was the fact that women who presented themselves in yet-to-be-held national elections became targets of discrimination or violence.

“Some have been abducted, part of a pattern of enforced disappearances which continues unabated in Libya,’’ Aujjar said, citing a member of Parliament, Sihem Sirgiwa, who was taken in 2019.

“Discrimination and violence are a feature of daily life for most women and girls in Libya.

“Of particular concern to the Mission is that the failure of the domestic law to provide protection against sexual and gender-based violence is inherent to and contributes to impunity for such crimes,’’ Aujjar stressed.

Additionally, he pointed out that there had been an increase in cases of sexual and gender-based abuse, torture, arbitrary detention, summary executions, and brutality against women and children.

He claimed that despite the establishment of two special courts to handle such offenses, this continued.


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