Misrata letter to Council Regarding the Serious Crimes Against Humanity Committed by Armed Groups of the NTC-NATO
Misrata Local Council
Misrata Military Council
Human Rights Watch is writing to its concerns about serious crimes have been and continue to be committed by armed groups in Misrata, some of them amounting to crimes against humanity. As the civilian and military leadership in the city, we urge you to take immediate action to stop the commission of these crimes and to support the prosecution of those responsible. We emphasize that senior officials, as you could be held criminally responsible for ordering these crimes, or for not preventing or punishing them, the courts and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Human Rights Watch has documented human rights violations in Libya since 2005, pushing the former government of Gaddafi to end a series of abuses, including torture, disappearances and political killings. During the uprising last year, we have extensively documented war crimes committed by the pro-Gaddafi in Libya, particularly in Misrata. We went to Misrata documented during the siege and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, attacks on medical facilities, the use of landmines and cluster munitions in civilian areas, arbitrary arrests and torture. We talked about these violations influential governments, United Nations, and the media. And he called for accountability for these crimes after he supported efforts to invoke the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Since then we have continued our work in Libya, documentation of violations of the actors on all sides of the political and military division and calling for those responsible to account. We believe that justice for serious crimes committed by all parties is vital for victims, the rule of law and stability in Libya. Unlike in the past human rights violations should be investigated and prosecuted.
Unfortunately, in recent months have documented serious violations of individuals and groups affiliated with the anti-Gaddafi, committed in a climate of impunity. These violations have occurred in many parts of Libya, but is written today about the serious abuses committed by armed groups that continue Misrata today.
A key focus of our work has been the conditions in detention centers, of which there are at least seven of Misrata today, some led by officials of government agencies and other armed groups and militias. Treatment of detainees in these facilities varies. In some facilities, staff and guards are professionals. In others, Human Rights Watch and other organizations have documented cases of torture and physical abuse, in some cases lead to death. In addition to physical abuse, none of the nearly 3,000 detainees in the area of Misrata have had a proper judicial review, so everyone seems to be arbitrarily detained.
We urge you to end this abuse and to ensure that all detainees are transferred to state facilities in coordination with government authorities. Human Rights Watch is also urging the Government to accelerate its efforts to receive these detainees and given prompt judicial review.
Another serious issue is the crimes we documented Misratan militias against the people of Tawergha, including murder, torture, looting, destruction of property and forced displacement current of about 30,000 people. Some officials have said publicly Misrata’s people must never again Tawergha because of the crimes they committed against the people of Misrata.
Human Rights Watch is aware of the crimes committed during the war Misrata by Gaddafi forces, having documented many of us. We call upon the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable. However, collective punishment is illegal to keep an entire community to return to their homes because of the actions of some individuals. If the reason for the prevention of Tawerghans return is based on fears for his safety is the responsibility of local and national officials to provide the security they need to return to their homes and to keep those threats against them by accounts. It is also for individual Tawerghans to decide whether to return home, after considering the security risks.
Human Rights Watch is not the only organization to document serious abuses. In particular, the March 2, 2012, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry reached firm conclusions about the abuses against the people of Tawergha. Commission’s final report concluded:
The Misrata thuwar killed, arbitrarily detained and tortured by Tawerghans Libia.La Tawergha destruction has been done to make it uninhabitable. Murder, torture and cruel, and looting that occurred during the hostilities constitutes a war crime. When they have continued ever since, which violate international human rights. The torture and murder by Misratan thuwar also, given the widespread and systematic manner in which they have occurred here, be able to constitute a crime against humanity, and the facts show crimes against humanity have taken place.
A crime against humanity can be certain crimes committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population – i.e, crimes committed in state policy, or an organization as a militia. Crimes against humanity may include murder, torture, deportation or forcible transfer, arbitrary detention and persecution of a group on political, racial, ethnic or otherwise.
As the civilian and military leadership in Misrata, which have a legal obligation to prevent these crimes are committed by forces under his command. You also have the obligation to support the necessary measures to hold the perpetrators accountable. Failure to do so could result in criminal liability.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1970 gives the ICC jurisdiction over the ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Libya since February 15, 2011.Como such, the ICC could prosecute civil officials, military commanders or persons who effectively act as military commanders for serious crimes committed by the forces or subordinates under their effective command and control. This can happen if the officer or the commander knew or should have known that his subordinates or the forces were committing or about to commit such crimes and did not take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent crime, or to refer the matter to the authorities responsible for the investigation and prosecution.
To end these abuses and crimes in progress, we believe you should take the following minimum measures:
· An end to abuse in detention centers run by armed groups and militias under its effective control.
· To support and cooperate with investigations of abuse in detention centers in Misrata and prosecutions by state authorities of suspected misconduct;
· Transfer all detainees to the custody of the competent authorities of the State;
· Remove the people responsible for the physical and psychological abuse of detainees in their positions in detention centers, and provide any evidence of such abuse to the competent authorities of the State;
· To issue immediate orders of the armed groups under their command to stop the killings, arbitrary arrests, looting and destruction of origin Tawergha and in Tomina and Kararim, and make clear that such acts will be treated as a criminal offense;
· To support and cooperate with investigations of the attacks against the community Tawergha by competent state authorities and the prosecution of those suspected of crime;
· Ensure that all persons who wish to return to their homes in Tawergha, Tomina and Kararim.
Thank you for your attention. We are ready to discuss these issues further at your convenience.The vision of post-Gaddafi’s Libya was one in which a new government to maintain the rule of law, ensure the protection of the rights of all Libyans, and prosecute those responsible for the criminal acts. We hope that with their efforts, this vision can be realized.
Sarah Leah Whitson
Middle East and North Africa
cc: Attorney General Abdelaziz al-Hasadi
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo
Posted by Mohamar Al Gaddafi