NTC to make arrests only after a working security force is established
TRIPOLI: Forces from both sides of the Libyan uprising are guilty of war crimes, breaches of international human rights laws and crimes against humanity, according to a UN report obtained by GlobalPost, scheduled for release later this week.
Both Gaddafi regime forces and revolutionary fighters committed murder, torture, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, and indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas, the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya stated. The continuing abuses being carried out by ex-rebel fighters in a ‘climate of impunity’ are deeply concerning, the report added.
“The Commission finds that the authorities are failing to hold accountable thuwar [revolutionary forces] who have committed serious violations including unlawful killings and arbitrary arrests,” read an advance copy of the report that will be officially released on March 9.
The commission also stated that to their knowledge no investigation has been carried out regarding any offences committed by ex-rebel fighters and no arrests for these crimes have been made.
National Transitional Council justice coordinator Jamal Bennor said now is not the time to be putting former rebels on trial.
“It may seem we are ignoring these crimes, but this does not mean we have given amnesty to the perpetrators,” Bennor said.
While a few cases against former rebels are under investigation in both Benghazi and Tripoli, Bennor said it is difficult to deal with the security committees and rebel groups outside of the bigger cities. There is a public sympathy towards the rebel forces, many of which are hailed as heroes. Bennor said it is crucial to establish a working security force first and activate government ministries and a new constitution before arrests can be made.
“After this these crimes must be investigated and perpetrators brought before the courts,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Libyan justice system is still under development after the collapse of the former regime. In its absence, as violations go unpunished, a circle of revenge attacks continues, further complicating the delicate balance of power between the new government and armed militia groups.
The UN report urged Libyan authorities to “break with the Gaddafi legacy by enforcing the law equally, investigating all abuses — irrespective of the perpetrator — and ensuring that amnesty processes comport with Libya’s obligations under international law.”
While these findings paint a gloomy picture of present day Libya, the commission acknowledged these atrocities must be viewed within the context of the legacy of violence left by the former regime. The new leadership now faces the challenge of rebuilding a country “devoid of independent institutions, a civil society, political parties, and a judiciary able to provide justice and redress.”