Last updated: 19 November, 2013

UN rights office condemns Libya violence

The UN’s human rights office Tuesday condemned violence involving militias in the Libyan capital Tripoli and urged the country’s government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“We condemn the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN high commissioner for human rights.

The unrest erupted Friday when former rebels from the city of Misrata fired on protesters angry at the continued presence of militias in the capital.

That triggered clashes that killed 43 people and wounded 450, marking the bloodiest violence in Tripoli since 2011.

“We urge all sides to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and engage in peaceful dialogue,” said Shamdasani.

The former rebels helped topple and kill veteran dictator Moamar Kadhafi in 2011, but have since banded into militias carving their own fiefdoms.

Shamdasani said the UN was deeply concerned that several individuals were reportedly taken prisoner by the militias during the clashes, calling for their immediate release or, if appropriate, their transfer to the justice authorities.

“We call upon the Libyan authorities to launch a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into the violent incidents and to ensure that those found responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses are brought to justice,” she added.

On Monday, Libyan troops deployed in Tripoli and militias were ordered out of the capital in an effort to defuse tensions.