UN Secretary-General António Guterres has expressed “deep shock”at the discovery of multiple mass graves in Libya in recent days.
No fewer than eight mass graves were reportedly discovered in an area retaken by the Government of National Accord (GNA) from forces of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
Most of the graves were found in Tarhuna, Haftar’s last stronghold in western Libya, media reports quoted the GNA as saying.
The city was used by his forces as a launchpad during a 14-month offensive to seize the capital from the GNA, the reports added.
In a statement by his spokesman, Mr Stephane Dujarric, the UN Chief called for “a thorough and transparent investigation, and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice”.
He urged the authorities to secure the mass graves, identify the victims, establish causes of death and return the bodies to next of kin.
“The United Nations has offered support in this regard.”
The secretary-general once again reminds all parties to the conflict in Libya of their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
He reiterated his call for an immediate end to the fighting in Libya in order to save lives and end civilian suffering.
“He welcomes the resumption of the work of the Libyan Joint Military Commission and hopes that a ceasefire will be agreed soon,” the statement said.
In March, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said it received reports of hundreds of enforced disappearances, torture, killings and displacement of entire families in Tarhuna by forces loyal to Haftar.
It said the victims included “private individuals, state officials, captured fighters and civil society activists”.
UNSMIL said it also verified numerous summary executions at Tarhuna prison on Sept. 13, 2019.
Libya has been in turmoil since the ouster of the country’s longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi who was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising.
It is now split between two rival administrations: the GNA in Tripoli and the eastern-based House of Representatives allied with Haftar, according to Aljazeera.