Fighting between armed groups in Libya has killed hundreds of civilians and could lead to prosecution for war crimes, the U.N.’s top human rights official said Tuesday.
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, said there have been hundreds of civilian deaths, widespread displacement of people and serious challenges to daily living for those trapped in areas of Libya where armed groups have fought in recent months.
“As a commander of an armed group, you are criminally liable under international law if you commit or order the commission of grave human rights abuses or fail to take reasonable and necessary measures to prevent or punish their commission,” Zeid warned, noting that the International Criminal Court is investigating the situation in Libya.
A report Tuesday from his Geneva-based U.N. human rights office and the U.N. Support Mission in Libya found indiscriminate shelling of some civilian areas and at least 120,000 people driven from their homes in an escalating humanitarian crisis. The report is based on evidence between September and mid-December.
A spokeswoman for Zeid’s office, Ravina Shamdasani, told reporters there is no accountability by the armed groups. “Some of these crimes may amount to war crimes,” she said.