Bloomberg News

Libyan Council Forces May Be Guilty of War Crimes, Amnesty Says

September 13, 2011

(See EXTRA <GO> for more on the Libyan conflict.)

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Libya’s new leaders must stop their forces from committing abuses such as indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and mass killings of prisoners that may amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said.

The National Transitional Council should make clear to its forces that “unlawful killings and other violent attacks” against civilians will not be tolerated, the London-based group said in a report today.

Amnesty said it found evidence that fighters opposed to Muammar Qaddafi carried out “indiscriminate attacks, mass killing of prisoners, torture, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary arrests.” It also said pro-Qaddafi forces were guilty of war crimes and may have committed crimes against humanity.

Libya’s new authorities have repeatedly called on their forces to respect law and order and refrain from revenge attacks. It was a message relayed again yesterday by NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil in his first public address in Qaddafi’s former stronghold of Tripoli, the capital.

“No retribution, no taking matters into your own hands and no oppression,” Jalil said. “I hope that the revolution will not stumble because of any of these things.”

The “new Libya” will follow the rule of law and respect the tenets of Islam, he said.

Sharia Law

“We push for a state of law, for a state of prosperity, for a state that will have Islamic sharia law as the basis for legislation,” he said in a speech broadcast on Libyan television. “We are a Muslim nation with a moderate Islam and we will keep that.”

It urged the transitional council to stop arbitrary detentions, stamp out racism and xenophobia among its fighters against black Africans and treat detainees humanely.

The council “must make a complete break with the abuses of the past four decades and set new standards by putting human rights at the center of their agenda,” Claudio Cordone, senior director at Amnesty, said in the statement. “The onus now is on the NTC to do things differently.”

Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, head of the council’s executive committee, said in a Sept. 11 televised press conference in the capital that bringing anti-Qaddafi fighters under civilian control was a priority.

The council must also bring all detention centers under the control of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and ensure that arrests are only conducted by official bodies rather than council fighters, Amnesty said.

The rights group said it documented “a brutal settling of scores” by some NTC forces, including the lynching of pro- Qaddafi soldiers after their capture.

“A top priority must be to assess the state of the justice sector and start its reform, to ensure due process and deliver access to justice and reparation for victims,” it said.

--With assistance from Chris Stephen in Misrata. Editors: Karl Maier, Heather Langan

To contact the reporter on this story: Caroline Alexander in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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