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Swiss call for probe into violent crackdown on Libya protests

Protests over dire living conditions broke out in several eastern Libyan cities in mid-September Keystone

Switzerland has condemned the recent violent crackdown on protestors by security forces in eastern Libya and called for a “thorough and independent” investigation.

This content was published on October 5, 2020 - 14:56

In mid-September, protests broke out for several days in a number of eastern Libyan cities, including Benghazi, over deteriorating living conditions and corruption.

Militias aligned with putschist General Khalifa Haftar reportedly opened fire on demonstrators in Marj province, leaving one person dead and one injured. Another local media report claimed that five people were injured in Benghazi, Bayda and Marj due to attacks by Haftar’s militias.

On September 13, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) reported that at least one civilian had been killed and three others had been wounded.

A Swiss diplomat told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday that this repression “violated the fundamental freedoms of these people", who were also arbitrarily detained.

Switzerland followed UNSMIL in calling for a thorough and immediate investigation into these incidents and for the speedy release of all those arbitrarily arrested and detained.

Human rights concerns

Libya has been split into rival camps with parallel institutions in the east and west since 2014. Eastern Libya and much of the south is controlled by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is aligned with a government and a rump parliament also based in the east. The government, which holds little real power, submitted its resignation to the parliament following last month’s protests.

In its statement to the Human Rights Council on Monday during an interactive dialogue with Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, Switzerland also expressed concerns about the numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated by all parties to the conflict.

“Arbitrary detentions, sexual violence and forced labour must be stopped,” it said.

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