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HRW calls for transparent investigation on Benghazi crimes

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LIBYAPROSPECT – London

A report issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW), on Wednesday, about the humanitarian and war crimes of the army of the Dignity Operation that led by General Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi.

The HRW said that Haftar’s forces “may have committed war crimes, including killing and beating civilians, and summarily executing and desecrating bodies of opposition fighters in the eastern city of Benghazi on and around March 18, 2017.”

It added that “the army forces allegedly intercepted civilians trying to flee a besieged neighborhood, some accompanied by opposition fighters, and the whereabouts of some civilians are unknown.”

The HRW called for a full and transparent investigation into what Haftar’s forces had done, including “the attacks on civilians, alleged summary executions, and the mutilation and desecration of corpses, and hold those responsible to account.”

The HRW published its deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa, Joe Stork, who said that the army’s leadership “needs to respond urgently to these deeply disturbing allegations by investigating the suspected perpetrators, including senior military commanders who may bear individual responsibility.”

The HRW stated that it had reviewed the “videos and photos shared by family members of victims, local journalists, and activists that purport to show bodies of BRSC fighters in Benghazi that LNA fighters allegedly desecrated and mutilated during or after the March 18 evacuation of Ganfouda residents.”

The HRW clarified that Haftar and the leadership of his army “should ensure safe passage for civilians and unimpeded delivery of aid.” It added that the army “should also provide detailed information about the screening procedures for civilians and fighters who evacuated the besieged neighborhood, and about the arrest of some of them.”

The HRW said that on March 20, 2017, the army of Haftar “were caught on video and photos committing serious violations, including desecration, burning, and mutilation of corpses.”

The HRW pointed to a statement from the army leadership, which said that “the LNA would arrest those suspected of the violations and bring them before an investigative committee.”

The HRW stated that “by issuing statements justifying these barbaric acts, the LNA leadership is implicating themselves in what appear to be war crimes.”

In the last paragraph, the HRW quoted Stork’s statement that holds the forces of Haftar’s army the responsibility. Stroke stressed that “the senior military commanders need to know that they too can be held accountable unless they actively do something to stop these violations.”