By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 24 September 2014:
In light of the recent killing sprees in Benghazi, with ten assassinations last Friday and . . .[restrict]another eight yesterday, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that such politically motivated killings may be deemed war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
According to HRW Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson, “the militias and individual killers are killing people on all sides with complete impunity. Those responsible for the latest killings in eastern Libya should be aware that the ICC prosecutor has a mandate to investigate grave abuses like these in Libya.”
In a statement issued 25 July, the ICC prosecutor warned that her office “would not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who commit crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction in Libya irrespective of their official status or affiliation”. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1970, the ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed in Libya since 15 February 2011.
The victims of the deluge of assassinations that have remained unpunished since 2012 include journalists, activists, judges, prosecutors and members of the security forces, the HRW said. The killings that took place this past Friday in Benghazi — “Black Friday”, as the activists are calling it — targeted victims with a wide range of political views, ranging from former members of Qaddafi’s security forces to two teen activists, the group added.
According to the HRW, killings of civilians are war crimes if committed by parties to the armed conflict in Benghazi. Murder on a systematic or widespread scale as a state policy or by an organised group is a crime against humanity.
Investigations were opened by the ICC prosecutor in 2011 against senior figures of the former regime, but no investigations have been conducted since, despite the rise in serious violations in Libya, including forced displacement, arbitrary detentions, torture, and attacks against civilians, the group said.
Also in 2011 the UN Human Rights Council established a commission of inquiry on Libya with a mandate to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya and to make recommendations. The Commission issued two reports and then its mandate expired in March 2012, the group stated.
According to the HRW, the international community, particularly those countries that participated in the Security Council-sanctioned NATO air strikes against Libya that led to the victory of the revolutionaries, failed to support Libya in rebuilding institutions and imposing rule of law.
“The assassination of two young Libya activists is one more nail in the coffin of Libya’s revolution, which indeed is not killing its own,” Whitson said. “The international community that played such a pivotal role in abetting the revolution is failing in its duty to save it.” [/restrict]