Rights group says displaced Libyans cannot return to Benghazi

A picture taken on Nov. 9, 2017 shows a tank of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country’s east strongman Khalifa Haftar. (Abdullah Doma/AFP)
Updated 01 February 2018
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Rights group says displaced Libyans cannot return to Benghazi

CAIRO: Human Rights Watch says armed groups, some linked to the self-styled Libyan National Army, have prevented thousands of internally displaced families from returning to their homes in the eastern city of Benghazi.
The New York-based group said Thursday that displaced Libyans have reported theft of property, torture, arrests and forcible disappearances at the hands of groups linked to the LNA, which is led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
It urged Haftar to “act resolutely to end the attacks on civilians in Benghazi.”
In January, Haftar instructed his forces to facilitate the return of those displaced and denounced forced displacement and attacks on private property.
HRW says an estimated 13,000 families fled Benghazi after Haftar launched a campaign against Islamic militants in 2014.
Libya fell into chaos following a 2011 uprising.


France urged to suspend boat delivery to Libya over migrant concerns

Updated 25 April 2019
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France urged to suspend boat delivery to Libya over migrant concerns

  • The demand was laid out in a legal challenge that was filed at the administrative court in Paris on Thursday morning

PARIS: Eight international NGOs including Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) demanded on Thursday that France suspend the delivery of boats to Libya’s coast guard on concerns they would be used to intercept migrants.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly had in February agreed to donate six boats to the Libyan navy, under which the coast guard operates, in a move she said was aimed at helping them “in the fight against illegal immigration.”

But the offer angered rights groups who said they would be used to block migrant boats seeking to reach Europe, forcing those on board to return to war-torn Libya.

The demand was laid out in a legal challenge that was filed at the administrative court in Paris on Thursday morning.

In it, the groups demand “the suspension of the decision” until the court decides whether or not the donation is legal. The court has 48 hours to make a decision.

The NGOs believe forcing people to return to Libya would expose them to “serious human rights violations.” Massimo Moratti, regional director for research at Amnesty International, said the pledge to deliver boats to the Libyan coast guard was “an unlawful and reckless decision.”

He said it was all the more dangerous at a time when fighting has intensified after Eastern commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on the capital Tripoli earlier this month.

“Doing it now, as the armed conflict in Libya escalates, is even more callous and irresponsible,” Moratti said in a statement, warning the donation would make France “complicit” in trapping people inside the country.

The NGOs accused the coast guard of having a bad track record in respecting those in distress at sea, saying it should not be given the logistical means to step up such abuses.

The statement accused the coast guard of abuses including pushing those in distress back into the water, threatening them with weapons and firing toward them.

The six vessels, which are to be delivered in the coming weeks, are 12-meter, semi-rigid boats made by French specialist Sillinger.

Besides Amnesty and MSF, the legal petition was joined by France’s Human Rights League, immigrant support group GISTI, Lawyers Without Borders, migrant aid groups La Cimade and Migreurop and Italian research and aid group ASGI.