Libya - the facts of the killing of " Black Saturday " in Benghazi should not get away with impunity
Must investigate the facts of the murder and tighten the grip on illegal militias.
June 14, 2013
There is a need for an immediate investigation to look into these crimes and the explanation of non - interference of the government forces in a fierce battle until the deaths of dozens. As also the government need to end violations of the militias of punishment, which have provoked that demonstration from the beginning, where its inconsistent policy about the militias give no hope for the rule of law at risk..
Eric Goldstein, deputy of the executive director of the Middle East and North Africa
(Tripoli), Human Rights Watch said today that the Libyan authorities have to conduct an investigation into the violent clashes that took place in Benghazi on June 8, 2013 and left behind 32 dead . The organization also said that authorities must hold accountable those responsible for breaking the law.
Witnesses described to Human Rights Watch how the protesters gathered in Benghazi at the headquarters of a brigade shield of Libya 1, which is one of the largest militia in the city, to protest against his conduct, which the demonstrators considered abusive and unjustified, and to demand the deployment of the Libyan army and the police instead. Witnesses said the demonstration escalated from the stone - throwing by demonstrators and firing shots to disperse the crowds, resulting in the death and wounding of dozens of people. After several hours the special forces seized the National Army Brigade base.
The Libyan parliament replied on the facts of the murder by issuing a decree asking the district Attorney to investigate, but the incident highlights the need of the government to rein in armed groups, according to Human Rights Watch.
Eric Goldstein, deputy of the executive director of the Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch Said: "There is a need to achieve an immediate and comprehensive look at those crimes and the explanation of non-interference by government forces in the battle until the fall of the dozens of dead. Also the government need to end the violations of militias from punishment, which provoked a demonstration at the base, where that policy is consistent about the militias that no hope for the rule of law at risk.
Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that two of the dead were at least of the brigade of Libya Shield 1, two of the special forces , and the rest of the population of Benghazi who joined the demonstration. a person who works at ElGalaa Hospital , which received a lot of dead and wounded , told Human Rights Watch that nearly 27 injured protesters were taken to Egypt for treatment, while others transfer to Tunisia. There were a smaller number wounded of the Special Forces awaiting for transfer to a third country for treatment. Some of the wounded are still in critical condition..
There were conflict reports about how the evolution of the incident.
One of Benghazi resident, who did not want to be named, told Human Rights Watch that the demonstration was because " the people of Benghazi do not want the presence of any brigade in their city ."
Witnesses of the clashes of what they called " Black Saturday " said that The members of the tribe Albragetha stationed in Benghazi went to the base to Libyan shield Brigade 1, demanding its closure , and the deposit of statement against a militia members , who accused him of abusing the population.
Witnesses said that the delegation met the brigade commander, wessam bin Hameed. After the delegation of Elbaraghetha left the camp, demonstrators threw stones at the militia, which fired warning shots to disperse the crowds.
One of the protesters Said that he arrived after the start of the clashes, and there was a small number of armed protesters, as opposed to the heavily armed militia:
I was in the heart of the incident. They Were already firing on people [when I arrived] . The issue is clear, people came out to protest against the presence of militias that arrest and kill and torture.
Khalil Ariq , a field commander of the Libyan brigade shield, told his version of how started the demonstration , as he said to Human Rights Watch that he saw someone throwing two pieces of homemade explosives, in the direction of the base, what provoked the reaction. He acknowledged that the militia used heavy weapons after that, including anti-aircraft weapons, against demonstrators, but claimed that the protesters in turn used machine guns:
The demonstration began peacefully and then some residents began throwing stones. I was out next to Brigade demonstrators to ensure our ability to respond appropriately if things went out of control. I have seen a machining members of the Army Special Forces, and I know them , standing amid the demonstrators . I also saw armed members of the brigade last to Albrgth tribe through the crowds.
Eric Goldstein said: "Whether the governmental investigation could identify who fired the first shot or not, what matters here is the complete failure of the authorities to provide basic protection for its people. This failure has prompted dozens of citizens to take over themselves."
Among the 12 Libyan armor brigades scattered across the country, 4 of them took bases in Benghazi, 1, 2, 7 and 10. The 2 and 10 brigades handed over their weapons to the national army to the National Congress after passing a decree ordering the year to dissolve all brigades that have no formal affiliation to the armed forces as of June 9 , the day after the facts of murder. Brigade 7 was responsible for securing the Kufra area south of Libya , and was on the way back to Benghazi following the issuance of the decree of the National Congress of the year. As thousands of members of the Libya Shield Signed contracts with the Army Chief of Staff and received salaries and other payments intermittently.
In June 9th National Congress General issued Decree No. 53 / 2013 which provides for accepting the resignation of Elmankoush and directing it to the government to take all necessary measures , including the use of force to close the " illegal armed formations " in Libya. The decree also granted Prime Minister Ali Zaidan two weeks to establish a mechanism to integrate members of armed groups who received the " legitimacy" of the government in the ranks of the national army and national security forces. The process should be completed by the end of 2013 , according to the decree of the General National Congress .
Eric Goldstein said : " The Libyan government should clarify beyond any unequivocally that it is able and willing to prevent tragedies such as what happened in Benghazi no one should die for the authorities to wake up and move.
In addition to groups who are linked somehow to the government, and who continue dozens of armed groups and militias working outside state control in Libya. The government did not provide a comprehensive plan to resolve the armed groups , including the development of standards to join members of armed groups to government security forces or shown to members of militias alternative means for income and employment.
Human Rights Watch said that he should, as a first step, establish clear criteria to sort the ex - militia members who wish to join the security forces to ensure that government involvement in the violations, including serious crimes such as torture or extrajudicial killings .
Human Rights Watch documented many of the abuses and violations at the hands of militias including forced disappearances , torture , sometimes leading to death. And still many thousands of detainees in the custody of militias unjustly and without judicial review , some of them in secret detention headquarters .
Libyan parliament failed to pass a law for Transitional Justice to deal with past abuses and violations committed by the militia after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. In contrast, the Law 38 / 2012 on some of the actions of the transitional phase , which was passed on May 2 / May 2012 , gives the anti- Gaddafi fighters broad amnesty . Law decides that there will be no penalty " on what اof revolution seventeenth of February had to do from the actions of military , security or civil carried out by the rebels to the success of the revolution or protection."
Eric Goldstein said : " the Libyan authorities can’t allow the militias to keep stranglehold on security and justice in many parts of Libya. As long as no one held accountable for major crimes committed in Libya , the new cycle of violence will continue."