Amnesty accuses anti-Kadhafi groups of war crimes
Amnesty International Tuesday accused the forces that overthrew Moamer Kadhafi of war crimes, saying Libya's National Transitional Council must act to stop reprisal attacks and arbitrary arrests.
A report by the human rights watchdog consists mainly of damning examples of violations by Kadhafi's regime but also outlines serious abuses committed by the new regime forces in a brutal settling of scores.
Amnesty said dozens of people suspected to be former security agents, Kadhafi loyalists or mercenaries had been killed after capture since February in eastern Libya.
"Opposition fighters and supporters have abducted, arbitrarily detained, tortured and killed former members of the security forces, suspected Kadhafi loyalists, captured soldiers and foreign nationals wrongly suspected of being mercenaries fighting on behalf of Kadhafi forces," the report says.
Amnesty said in the first days of the uprising that groups of protesters killed a number of captured soldiers and suspected mercenaries.
"Some were beaten to death, at least three were hanged, and others were shot dead after they had been captured or had surrendered, the report, "The Battle for Libya -- Killings, Disappearances and Torture," said.
"The NTC is facing a difficult task of reigning in opposition fighters and vigilante groups responsible for serious human rights abuses, including possible war crimes but has shown unwillingness to hold them accountable," the report said.
"Opposition officials with whom Amnesty International raised these concerns condemned such abuses, though they have often downplayed their extent and gravity, some dismissing them as 'understandable' reactions to heinous crimes by Kadhafi forces."
But Amnesty acknowledged that the war crimes allegedly committed by the now governing opposition were of a "smaller scale" than those carried out by Kadhafi's regime, which it says may be responsible for crimes against humanity.
The Amnesty report is the most recent document to give detailed accounts of violations in Libya.
Amnesty urged that all the alleged crimes be investigated, and the perpetrators brought to justice.
"Allowing them to escape justice will send a message that serious human rights violations will continue to be tolerated," the report said.
"The new authorities must make a complete break with the abuses of the past four decades and set new standards by putting human rights at the centre of their agenda," Claudio Cordone, senior director at Amnesty, said.
"The onus now is on the NTC to do things differently, end abuses and initiate the human rights reforms that are urgently needed," he added.
© 2011 AFP