Libya: deep international shock due to recent discovery of mass graves

A reportedly mass grave in the town of Tarhuna  A reportedly mass grave in the town of Tarhuna Mahmud Turkia/Agence France-Presse

12 June 2020

UN calls for investigations of human rights violations on territories controlled by Haftar’s forces

According to the United Nations Support Mission to Libya, on Friday at least eight mass graves had been discovered mostly in the town of Tarhuna, which is located about 65 kilometers southeast of the capital Tripoli. Tarhuna is a key point in the fights in the country and is currently controlled by Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) after having pushed back the self-styled Libya National Army (LNA) forces led by Khalifa Haftar.

The interior minister of GNA Fathi Bashagha reported that the people in the mass graves allegedly had been buried alive. Furthermore, special investigative teams uncovered a shipping container in Tarhuna full of charred bodies, presumably of detainees, Bashagha reports. He blamed Haftar for committing “heinous crimes”. A committee to investigate the mass graves and identity the victims and the circumstances of their deaths has been established by the Ministry of Justice. 

Libya has been in crisis since the beginning of a civil war in 2011. A 2014 civil war initiated by Haftar which has not yet come to an end. The country has since split between the rival sides in the east and the west. Haftar is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. New escalations between the bellic parties are expected.

"It is time for the United Nations Human Right Council to finally establish an international investigation into violations by all sides in Libya, which would send an unmistakable signal that those who commit or have command responsibility over war crimes, will eventually be held accountable," said Hanan Salah, senior Libya researcher at Human Rights Watch, told CNN.


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Author: Theresa Bender-Säbelkampf

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