HRW Demands Haftar’s Forces End Siege of Civilians in Libya’s Derna

An international rights group has urged Libyan strongman’s self-styled army to lift its siege inside an eastern Mediterranean city where civilians have been trapped.

Human Rights Watch said that over the past two weeks, General Khalifa Haftar’s forces have been carrying out arbitrary arrests in Darna and laying siege on its Old City. It’s unclear how many civilians are trapped in the Old City now.

It is worth to mnetion that Haftar’s Libyan National Army, with the backing of Egypt, has waged a campaign to take control of Darna since last May from the city’s Islamic militias known as the Shura Council of Darna Mujahedeen, until defeat.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Mideast chief at Human Rights Watch, urged Hafter’s army to “end the nightmare for any trapped civilians and account for the people in its custody.”

HRW added on its report that it had cited credible reports of civilians being “trapped in Derna within the past two weeks without access to food, water, or medical care.”

According to the report, Haftar’s forces have detained Derna residents at their homes, and at checkpoints and other public places.

“The attacking forces have also deliberately damaged homes, including by arson, or turned them over to their supporters in the city after their owners had fled,” the report added, quoting sources and UN reporting that cites claims by people who fled Derna.

HRW further called for Haftar’s forces to permit all citizens trapped in Derna to be allowed to flee.

The report reads,”It is estimated that hundreds of people have been taken into custody during the conflict and HRW seeks to have the forces make public the location of all detainees and the legal basis for their detention to ensure due process before a judge.”

According to UN investigators, “approximately 1,000-2,000 families have been displaced either to neighbourhoods inside Derna or to other Mantikas (Regions) in Libya.”

Last month, an exclusive report was published by the Independent– the British online newspaper, quoting right lawyers accusing General Haftar’s troops are thought to have tortured and murdered civilians, and mutilated corpses in the eastern city.

According to the report, rights lawyers also urged the International Criminal Court to investigate instances of torture, murder, and mutilation of corpses.

Geneva-based Libyan group Human Rights Solidarity, which commissioned the report, intends to file it with International Criminal Court prosecutors.

Human rights lawyer Rodney Dixon, of Temple Garden Chambers, reached this conclusion after studying multiple videos and photos taken in Derna and posted online, which purport to show Gen Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) shooting unarmed civilians, stringing up mutilated bodies and indiscriminately shelling residential areas.