UK sanctions Libya’s Kaniyat militia over human rights abuse

Tarhouna-based group accused of abducting and torturing opponents

Fighters loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government celebrate after regaining control over Tarhouna from the Kaniyat, June 5, 2020. Reuters
Fighters loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government celebrate after regaining control over Tarhouna from the Kaniyat, June 5, 2020. Reuters

Britain on Thursday imposed sanctions on Libya’s brutal Kaniyat militia, which is accused of murdering and torturing innocent people.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the militia “oversaw a five-year reign of terror until 2020, torturing and murdering innocent people”.

“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 said.

Mohamed Al Kani and Abdurahem Al Kani ran the militia with their brothers. They effectively controlled the town of Tarhouna, about 65 kilometres south of the capital Tripoli.

“These 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 UK’s Middle East minister James Cleverly said.

He said the militia “oversaw a reign of terror … which included enforced disappearances, torture, and the killing of civilians.

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

Last year, the US blacklisted the militia and its leader after Russia prevented a UN Security Council committee from imposing sanctions over human rights abuse by the group.

The Kaniyat is accused of abducting hundreds of Tarhouna residents, and torturing and killing anyone who opposed them.

Libyan authorities discovered a series of mass graves in the town, after the remaining members of the militia fled last year.

Published: May 13, 2021 06:34 PM

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