By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 17 February 2015:
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have called the “brutal” killings by beheading of . . .[restrict]the 21 mostly Egyptian Coptic Christians by the group calling itself the Tripoli Province of the Islamic State a war crime for which those responsible must be held accountable.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein has called the murder a “vile crime” and has urged all Libyans to unite against extremists.
“Nothing could justify the cold-blooded murder of the men who appear to have been targeted solely on account of their faith,” Amnesty International has said.
HRW has called on Libyan authorities to take immediate steps to bring the perpetrators to justice, while simultaneously calling on the United Nations to establish a mechanism for investigating and prosecuting such crimes.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, who has an ongoing mandate in Libya, has not pursued additional cases there since 2011, citing security concerns and lack of resources as obstacles, HRW said.
Calling on the Egyptian government for support for the victims’ families, Amnesty International has pointed out that Egyptian Coptic Christians have suffered discrimination for decades, while Egyptian authorities have failed to protect the community from “numerous” sectarian attacks.
“Egyptian authorities must act on their promise to deliver financial compensation to the families of the victims who come from poor communities in Upper Egypt and may have lost their breadwinners. They must also ensure that they receive the psychological and social support they require, both in the immediate aftermath of this atrocity and on a continuing basis as needed,” the group said.
Reminding the Egyptian government that seven Egyptian Copts are still missing in Libya, Amnesty International has called on authorities to intensify efforts to establish the fate and whereabouts of the men as soon as possible.
As Egypt, in coordination with the Libyan government, has retaliated by conducting airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) targets in Derna, HRW has expressed concern that civilians will be caught in the crossfire and has urged both countries to take all necessary steps to minimize civilian casualties.
There have been unconfirmed reports that Monday’s airstrikes killed six people, and HRW has called on Libya and Egypt to conduct investigations into the civilian casualties.
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