By Spy Uganda Correspondent
More than 550 civilians were killed by Libyan law enforcement agents and militias from January 2020 to March 2022, according to a report by World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).
Of the 581 deaths documented in the report, 487 were in the eastern and western regions – home to the majority of Libya’s population – and 83 were killed in the southern region.
All but 11 deaths took place between January 2020 and March 2022. These remaining cases are from mass graves in the town of Tarhuna, killings that took place in 2019 but could only be confirmed last year.
“The cases we have been able to document represent only the tip of the iceberg,” said OMCT secretary general Gerald Staberock.
“Extrajudicial killings of defenceless civilians, often accompanied by horrific torture, are now endemic in Libya, as government agents and armed militias unleash indiscriminate violence with total impunity.
“The world cannot remain complacent and allow such egregious crimes to become the new normal.”
Libyan civilians made up the vast majority of deaths, but migrants represented a notable minority.
The migrants killed include Nigerians, Syrians and Sudanese.
Libya is split between two rival authorities – one in the west, in the capital of Tripoli, and the other in the city of Tobruk in the east.
The report makes a series of recommendations to Libyan authorities, calling for a “comprehensive law to protect detainees” and “thorough, prompt and impartial investigations into any extrajudicial, arbitrary, or unlawful killings or execution[s]”.
It also made recommendations to the international community, including calling on the European Union to stop pushing migrants back to Libya.
The report is based on survivor and witness interviews conducted throughout Libya by the Libyan Anti-Torture Network (LAN).
LAN recorded 68 deaths in 2021, a significant decrease from the 488 cases identified in 2020.
From January to March 2022, the group documented the extrajudicial killings of 14 migrants at southern Libya police stations.
But the report warns that the 2021 and 2022 data “do not necessarily mean that the number of killings and torture practices did reduce”.
It said the decline is due to added difficulties in recording cases, given fear of reprisals and “external factors” such as coronavirus.
Libya fell into security chaos during and after the toppling of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in late 2011.
The country was plunged into two civil wars in the decade that followed.