Eastern Libyan military courts have sentenced at least 22 people to death and jailed hundreds more since 2018 in “sham, torture-tainted” trials to exert control, Amnesty International said on Monday.
Amnesty International indicated that military courts had convicted hundreds of civilians in eastern Libya in secret and grossly unfair military trials, which were “aimed at punishing real or perceived opponents and critics” of the forces loyal to eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar.
It added that the those convicted included journalists, peaceful protesters and individuals who criticized Haftar’s militias on social media.
Amnesty said former detainees they interviewed “detailed a catalogue of abuses”, including being “abducted and detained for up to three years” before being taken to military trial.
Others said they had been “held incommunicado for up to 20 months” as well as reporting being “beaten, threatened and water-boarded”, and “forced to sign ‘confessions’ to crimes they did not commit.”
Amnesty International’s Diana Eltahawy said military trials were used by the eastern forces as means of “exerting their power to punish those who oppose them and instill a climate of fear”.
“Trials were sometimes held without lawyers or even the defendants, undermining any semblance of justice”, Eltahawy added.
It was not clear if the 22 death sentences had been carried out, but Amnesty said Libyan rights groups had reported at least 31 executions between 2018 and 2020.
Amnesty International said the new Government of National Unity “must immediately put an end to the military trial of civilians, and order investigations into torture and other crimes under international law committed by armed groups.”