Geneva, Tunis – The United Nations called on Tuesday the Libyan National Army (LNA) to investigate executions without trial against a number of detainees.
The LNA, which controls the eastern part of the North African country, is seeking to expand its presence in the area and is competing for power with forces affiliated with the UN-backed Libyan government and other opponents.
LNA leader Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has gained ground with Egyptian and Emirati support, and Western states say Haftar must be part of any solution to Libya’s conflict
UN human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell said: “We are deeply concerned that, after recent fighting in Benghazi, people taken prisoner by members of the LNA, which effectively controls eastern Libya, may be at imminent risk of torture and even summary execution.”
The LNA announced last March that it would conduct investigations into alleged war crimes but has not shared any information, Throssell told a news briefing.
“We urge the LNA to ensure there is a full, impartial investigation into these allegations,” she said.
Reports have suggested the involvement of Special Forces, a unit aligned with the LNA, “in torturing detainees and summarily executing at least 10 captured men”, she said.
Throssell also called on the group to suspend Mahmoud al-Werfalli from his duties as a Special Forces field commander pending the conclusion of such an investigation.
A video circulating on social media in March allegedly showed al-Werfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling and facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs, Throssell said.
In June, two further videos appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA fighters on his orders.
“One of these videos, which emerged on 9 June, shows four men kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs who are shot dead as al-Werfalli watches,” she said.
“The latest video, which was posted on social media this month, seems to shows LNA fighters kicking and taunting prisoners, while al-Werfalli is apparently heard accusing two men who have their hands tied behind their backs of belonging to terrorist groups,” she said.
The LNA has declined comment on the images.
Meanwhile, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi held telephone talks with Haftar on Tuesday as part of efforts to push the political process forward in Libya.
On Wednesday, the foreign ministers of China and Tunisia called for new efforts to reach a negotiated peace in Libya and prevent the unstable North African nation from dissolving into a humanitarian disaster on a level with Syria.
China’s Wang Yi said Libya is attracting militants from across the globe now being driven from Iraq and Syria, requiring the international community to step in and prevent the country becoming “a new source of international terrorism.”
“We should prevent Libya from becoming the next Syria,” Wang told reporters in Beijing.
Tunisia’s Khemaies Jhinaoui, whose country borders Libya, said a political rather than military solution is needed based on a 2015 UN-brokered peace deal.
“Libya should realize its security, independence and territorial integrity and avoid the misfortune of national disruption,” Jhinaoui said.