The recent visit to Libya by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Karim Khan, has reignited hope for long-delayed justice for the victims of Al-Kaniyat (Al-Kani) militia that controlled Tarhouna during the 2019-2020 battle for Tripoli, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Sunday.
“If the Libyan authorities cannot bring a measure of domestic accountability for the horrors against the people of Tarhouna, then the ICC prosecutor should investigate the crimes that fall within the court’s jurisdiction,” said Hanan Salah, associate director at Human Rights Watch.
Salah added that relatives of the hundreds who were arbitrarily detained and tortured, or disappeared and later found in mass graves are still waiting for justice.
“Members of the militia and their affiliates detained, tortured, disappeared, and executed people in at least four detention facilities while they controlled the town of Tarhouna. They sided with the Libyan Armed Arab Forces under the command of Khalifa Haftar, in attacking the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). No one has been brought to trial for the abuses.” HRW added.
HRW indicated that Khan offered technical assistance from the ICC with forensic work, and while in Benghazi, he met with Haftar and told him that the ICC had received information and evidence of allegations of crimes committed by the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) and that those “would be and are being investigated.”
In his report to the UN Security Council, the ICC prosecutor did not make any announcements regarding specific cases the court was investigating in Libya.
“Senior government officials in the GNA and previous Tripoli-based administrations, and LAAF Commanders, including senior LAAF leadership, may be criminally liable for war crimes of their subordinates in Tarhouna, if they knew or should have known of the crimes and failed to take measures to prevent them or hand over those responsible for prosecution.” HRW remarked.