Europe

UK sanctions Libya's pro-Haftar militia al-Kaniyat

Al-Kaniyat militia oversaw 5-year reign of terror until 2020, torturing and murdering innocent people, says foreign secretary

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal   | 13.05.2021
UK sanctions Libya's pro-Haftar militia al-Kaniyat

LONDON

Britain on Thursday imposed sanctions on al-Kaniyat militia group in Libya for atrocities it has committed in Libya.

“The Libyan al-Kaniyat militia oversaw a 5-year reign of terror until 2020, torturing and murdering innocent people,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab wrote in a Twitter message.

“The UK has today imposed asset freezes and travel bans on the militia group and its two leaders. We will hold them accountable for these atrocities,” he added.

In an earlier statement, James Cleverly, minister of state for Middle East and North Africa, said the new sanctions “send a clear message that those responsible for serious human rights violations or breaches of international humanitarian law in Libya will face consequences.”

“The al-Kaniyat militia and its leaders, Mohamed al-Kani and Abdurahem al-Kani, oversaw a reign of terror in Tarhuna, Libya, which included enforced disappearances, torture, and the killing of civilians,” he added.

“The persistent climate of impunity in Libya must be addressed and justice provided for the victims.”

Libya last year revealed a list of suspects related to mass graves discovered in Tarhuna city and areas south of the capital Tripoli. The list contained names of leaders of the pro-Khalifa Haftar 9th Brigade known as al-Kaniyat.

On June 5, 2020, the Libyan army liberated Tarhuna, a focal location used as an operation and supply center by militias loyal to renegade commander Haftar.

Hundreds of corpses were found in the city hospital, a container belonging to the facility, and a water well near the city.

The tragic part in Tarhuna came to light when mass graves were excavated as part of investigations launched by the Libyan government.

The civil war in Libya, which continued since the ouster and killing of strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011, was exacerbated in 2019 when warlord Haftar, supported by several countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia, and France, carried out a military onslaught to topple the Tripoli-based internationally recognized government for control of the North African country.

Libya’s new unity government headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh was sworn in in March 2021.

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