Amnesty International has accused an armed group linked to General Khalifa Haftar in the east of Libya of committing “war crimes and other crimes under international law” against thousands of Libyans and migrants since 2016.
In an extensive report on the Tariq Ben Zeyad Brigade, one of the largest and most important wings of Haftar’s forces, Amnesty said that since its emergence in 2016, the brigade had inflicted a “catalogue of horrors, including unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, rape and other sexual violence, and forced displacement, with no fear of consequences.”
In the course of its investigations, the human rights organisation said that it had spoken to 38 current or former residents of areas controlled by Haftar’s forces. They include former detainees and relatives of people unlawfully killed, detained or forcibly disappeared by them.The testimonies revealed that the brigade, led by Haftar’s son Saddam, had “routinely targeted thousands of actual or perceived critics and opponents of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces, the de facto authority controlling vast swathes of the divided country.”
Amnesty documented the cases of 25 people who were arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared by the Tariq Ben Zeyad Brigade between 2017 and 2022 because of their political views or their tribal, family or regional affiliations. The brigade is also said to have committed human rights violations against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers by forcibly expelling foreign nationals from southern Libya without following due procedures.
The international body also documented multiple videos in which these fighters can be heard congratulating themselves on saving Libya from “illegal immigrants” with hundreds of migrants seen in trucks heading to the border with Niger, where they were left apparently stranded without food and water.
Amnesty International called on the Libyan authorities to “ensure prompt, impartial, independent and comprehensive investigations by civilian judicial bodies about the Tarek Ben Zeyad Brigade’s involvement in crimes punishable under international law in eastern and southern Libya.”
Haftar’s forces did not issue any official comment on the accusations levelled against its most powerful armed brigade.