Tripoli, 14 September:
Until effective measures are put in place to control the proliferation of weapons throughout the country, both Libyans and . . .[restrict]foreigners remain vulnerable, say Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL).
The organisation, which is dedicated to defending and promoting justice in Libya, has said that the recent attack on the US consulate in Benghazi is another indication of the need for disarmament.
The Director of LFJL, Elham Saudi, has said: “Put simply, attacks like that against the US Consulate would be highly unlikely had there been greater control over the spread of arms and by bringing Libya’s militias under central command.”
“The proliferation of arms across the country threatens its security and stability. Every individual, Libyan and otherwise, is vulnerable to fatal attack if no serious measures are put in place for arms control. A troubling consequence of the spread of weapons has been the spate of recent attacks on religious and cultural sites and diplomatic posts,” Saudi said.
In November, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on the proliferation of arms in the country, warning of the threat these posed to both Libya and the wider region. It called for Libyan authorities to take “all necessary steps to prevent the proliferation of all arms and related materiel of all types to ensure their proper custody, as well as to meet Libya’s arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation obligations under international law.”
However, LFJL has pointed to the inability of the interim government to assert effective control over the militia groups that emerged during the Revolution.
Saudi said: “The militias remain a force unto themselves and, until they are disarmed and until former rebels are incorporated into the police and army, the potential for such attacks is all too real. The Libyan government must re-double efforts to bring stability and peace by asserting effective and legitimate command over militias.”
Saudi exhorted the new Prime Minister, Mustafa Abushagur, “to move beyond simply condemning these actions and to take all the steps necessary to ensure that these violations are dealt with promptly, fairly and transparently and to take all steps to prevent non-recurrence.”
Abushagur has already called upon “all true Libyans” to hand in their weapons and work together to make a better Libya. He said that the revolution would not be complete until “heavy arms are in the hands of only the government and when our streets are safe to all – both to Libyans and to our honoured guests.”