AU calls for independent investigation into attack on migrant centre in Libya

Residents carry a coffin containing a body of a member of the Libyan pro-internationally recognised government forces who was killed during clashes, during funeral in Tripoli, Libya April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
FILE PHOTO: The African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui makes a speech as he and other senior diplomats of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) attend the Council of Ministers Extraordinary Meeting. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The African Union on Saturday called for the formation of an independent inquiry to establish facts around Tuesday’s attack on the Tajoura Migrant Detention Centre near the Libyan capital Tripoli and offer recommendations to ensure the well-being of migrants.

The airstrike, which killed at least 44 migrants dead and left about 80 others injured, had been blamed on Khalifa Haftar whose eastern forces launched an offensive in April to take the capital held by the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord.

The AU also said it wanted the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to participate in the process and submit the outcome of the investigation to the AU’s Peace and Security Council by September 30 for its consideration.

Libyan authorities and other stakeholders have been urged to cooperate with the investigation to ensure that those responsible for the attack face justice.

The AU also urged the United Nations to take full responsibility towards the speedy resolution of the crisis in Libya. The AU noted that a continuation of the crisis will result in negative consequences to Libya, the Sahel region and Africa in general.

The UN Security Council had on Friday called for a ceasefire in Libya as the death toll from the three-month conflict hit 1,000.

Libyan authorities were also encouraged to disband all detention centres and take solid measures to ensure that civilians, including migrants and refugees, are protected. Additionally, countries from which the illegal migrants come from were urged to increase their efforts to enable their speedy repatriation from Libya. This, the AU says, is to prevent any further exploitation of migrants, whose situations are already fragile.

Human rights groups say migrants undergo terrible abuses in Libya, and their situation has worsened since Haftar launched his campaign to take Tripoli.

Libya has become a major passage route for migrants attempting to cross into Europe and remains vulnerable to several militias jostling for control of the country’s oil wealth.