A United Nations-appointed mission in Libya stated on Monday that there are “probable mass graves” remaining to be probed, maybe as many as 100, in a town where hundreds of dead have already been discovered, and asked Tripoli to continue digging.
The report, which will be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council this week, details how a militia led by seven brothers executed and imprisoned hundreds of people between 2016 and 2020, sometimes keeping them in tiny oven-like structures known as “the boxes” which were set on fire during interrogations. [nL8N2R83MH]
The evidence of kidnappings, murder, and torture discovered in Tarhouna by the independent Fact-Finding Mission is one of the most serious examples of human rights violations in the volatile time after Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster in 2011.
The handicapped, as well as women and children, were among the victims, according to the 51-page study.
Based on local accounts and two site inspections, the team concluded that the Kaniyat militia committed crimes against humanity. It identified four commanders who were directly involved in them. more info
Libyan officials have now found 247 dead from mass and individual grave sites in the Tarhouna region of Western Libya. Many people remained shackled and blindfolded.
The expedition identified three more potential sites using satellite images that showed traces of soil changes, among other evidence. However, it stated that there might be many more, citing an existing burial known as ‘The Landfill,’ where just a small portion of the site has been studied.
“According to insider knowledge, there might still be up to 100 as of yet undiscovered mass graves,” the study stated.
It is unclear how the conclusions would be interpreted by Libyan officials. The diplomatic mission of Libya in Geneva did not reply to a request for comment.
At one point, the Kaniyat was affiliated with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, but afterwards with the eastern Libyan National Army commanded by General Khalifa Haftar, which attempted but failed to destabilize the National Accord government. Tarhouna is no longer ruled by the militia.
The Kaniyat’s surviving leaders are thought to have fled to areas of eastern Libya under Haftar’s control.
The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) concludes by urging Libyan authorities to continue their search for the graves. It also requests that a special tribunal be established to prosecute international offenses.
Tracy Robinson, one of the three team leaders, stated that the 18-person team lacked the means and authorization to investigate the Tarhouna burials alone. “It’s the state’s duty to act,” she told media in Geneva.
The study mentions previous issues in collaboration with Libyan authorities. According to diplomats and U.N. officials, Libya had previously voiced doubts about prolonging the mission, which expires this month.
The Geneva-based council is presently debating a motion to continue investigations for another nine months, which is less than some had hoped for.
A decision is due this week, and if successful, FFM members want to present further evidence, a final report, and a confidential list of individual suspects to the council the following year.