Russia on Friday stopped a UN Security Council committee from blacklisting a putschist general Khalifa Haftar-affiliated militia group and its leaders for human rights violations because they said they first wanted to see more evidence that they had killed civilians.
The United States and Germany proposed that the Council of 15 members of the Libyan Sanctions Committee introduce a freezing and travel ban for the al-Kaniyat militia and its leader Mohammed al-Kani. Such a measure must be agreed by consensus, but Russia said it could not be approved.
“Our support in the future is possible, but conditional on the provision of indisputable evidence of their involvement in the killing of civilians,” a Russian diplomat told his Security Council colleagues in a note seen by Reuters.
The Libyan city of Tarhuna, which was recaptured in June by the Internationally Recognized Government of National Agreement (GNA), had been controlled for several years by the al-Kaniyat militia run by the local Kani family, who fought alongside warlord Haftar’s militia.
Last month, Libyan authorities dug up 12 bodies from four more unmarked graves in Tarhuna, increasing the number of bodies already discovered since June.
Turkey supports the GNA while Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt support the Putchist general. These foreign powers have been quoted in previous UN documents supplying weapons in violation of the arms embargo.
The United States and Germany wrote in their sanctions proposal that international human rights groups and the UN political mission in Libya, known as UNSMIL, have “received reports of hundreds of human rights abuses committed by al-Kaniyat militia against private individuals, government officials, captured warriors and civil society activists” and Tarhouna. ”
“Under the leadership of Mohammed al-Kani, the al-Kaniyat militia has reportedly carried out forced disappearances, torture and murder. In addition, UNSMIL confirmed a number of summary executions in the Tarhuna prison carried out by the al-Kaniyat militia on September 13, 2019,” the proposal read.
In June, the UN-backed government in Tripoli, about 65 kilometers southeast of the Libyan capital, captured Tarhuna, their latest in a series of battlefield successes that turned most of Haftar’s gains. Earlier, the government said it regained control of all of Tripoli’s entry and exit points and Tripoli’s airport.
About 112 bodies have been found in more than 20 mass graves in Tarhuna since it was recaptured.
Libyan teams continue their excavation work in a larger area now in search of more bodies.
The Libyan authorities say that Haftar’s militia and allied mercenaries have committed several war crimes and crimes against humanity during the period April 2019 to June 2020.