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Unrest, Abuse Prevent Solution in Libya

Onlookers and security personnel stand at the scene of a car bomb explosion near the Egyptian embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli Nov. 13, 2014. (Reuters)

Onlookers and security personnel stand at the scene of a car bomb explosion near the Egyptian embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli Nov. 13, 2014. (Reuters)

The political and security crisis in Libya is growing worse. Competing governments seek to control the east and west of the country. In a new report, Amnesty International says human rights violations in Libya are widespread. And it says rights are violated without fear of punishment.

Libyans have been facing almost constant conflict since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi three years ago. The fighting is continuing. The country may have competing governments, but militias hold much of the real power. They represent supporters of the former Libyan leader, Islamists and other groups.

Recently, Amnesty International examined the situation in Libya. The new report condemns all sides for human rights abuses and violations of international law. Magdalena Mughrabi works for Amnesty.

“We’ve seen, you know, three years where, instead of investigating crimes, instead of investigating human rights violations, having a sort of transitional justice process, the authorities, the successive governments, were actually unable to deal with that situation.”

Magdelena Mughrabi says conditions worsened through three years of different governments. She says these governments gave power to militias in an effort to help them become part of Libyan society. But she says Libyan officials were unable to control the militias or to hold them responsible for their actions.

The political situation in Libya has also broken down. The Libyan Supreme Court cancelled the election of the latest parliament. This parliament still claims power from a town in the country’s east. But a militant commander, Khalifa Hifter, has set up another government in Tripoli. He formerly served as a general in the Libyan armed forces.

That means more fighting and suffering for the Libyan people, says Chris Doyle. He is the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding.

“It means that there is still a struggle for power within the country. There is no legitimate authority. It means there’s going to be a further conflict now to assert who actually has the legitimacy to run the country.”

Mr. Doyle says some Libyans want another strongman as their leader. He notes that a small minority consider the Islamic State militant group as a model.

Yet many Libyans continue to flee toward Europe, creating another humanitarian crisis.

“If we do not address the situation in Libya, we are going to see more of that, and we are gonna see increased radicalization and extremism on the southern borders of Europe.”

The 2011 revolution created great hope for oil-rich and well-educated Libya. Now, Chris Doyle says, the competing groups need foreign help with negotiating an end to the crisis. And there is none they would all trust.

So Magdalena Mughrabi says Amnesty International is calling on militia commanders to end the human rights abuses.

“There are certain things that, you know, not only can be done, but must be done by the armed groups because otherwise they can be liable to prosecution by the International Criminal Court.”

But that call is unlikely to have much of an effect on Libyan commanders who have never been punished. Many believe they are fighting an all-or-nothing battle for the future of their country.

I'm Christopher Cruise.

VOA Correspondent Al Pessin reported this story from London. George Grow wrote it for VOA Learning English. Jeri Watson edited it. Christopher Cruise read and produced the program.


Words in This Story

crisis - n. an extremely important time when something may become much better or worse; a dangerous situation

violations - n. failure to obey or honor

punishment - n. causing pain, suffering or loss for doing something bad or illegal

militias - n. armies of citizens instead of professional soldiers; private armies

Now it’s your turn to use these Words in This Story. In the comments section, write a sentence using one of these words and we will provide feedback on your use of vocabulary and grammar.

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