US blacklists for Libyan militia after Russia blocked UN sanctions

The United States unilaterally blacklisted Libya’s Kaniyat militia and its leaders on Wednesday after Russia last week prevented a UN Security Council committee from imposing sanctions on the group’s human rights abuses.

The US sanctions were introduced under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the US government to target human rights violators around the world by freezing assets and banning Americans from doing business with them.

“Mohamed al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia have tortured and killed civilians during a brutal repression campaign in Libya,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The United States and Germany proposed earlier this month that the UN Security Council’s 15-member Libya Sanctions Committee face a freezing and travel ban for the Kaniyat militia and al-Kani.

However, such an agreement must be reached by consensus, and Russia said on Friday that they could not approve the sanctions because they first wanted to see more evidence that they had killed civilians.

The Libyan city of Tarhouna, which was recaptured in June by the internationally recognized National Accord Government (GNA), had been controlled for several years by the Kaniyat militia run by the local Kani family, who fought alongside Khalifa Haftar’s eastern illegal forces.

Last month, Libyan authorities exhumed 12 bodies from four unmarked graves in Tarhouna, increasing the number of bodies already discovered since June.

Last month, the two major sides in the country’s war agreed on a ceasefire. Turkey supports GNA. Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt support the Haftar forces.

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