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The New Arab Staff

Russia stops UN blacklisting of notorious pro-Haftar Libya militia

Russia backs Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are allied with the militia in question. [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 November, 2020

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Moscow reportedly said it wants more evidence of civilian killings before it agrees to the sanctions.
Russia has stopped a UN Security Council committee from blacklisting a Libyan militia group, citing the need for more evidence of human rights violations, a report said on Saturday.

The asset freeze and travel ban on Libya's al-Kaniyat militia and its leader Mohammed al-Kani were proposed to the council's 15-member Libya sanctions committee by the US and Germany.

"Under Mohammed al-Kani’s leadership, the al-Kaniyat militia has reportedly carried out enforced disappearances, torture, and killings. In addition, UNSMIL verified numerous summary executions at Tarhouna Prison conducted by the al-Kaniyat militia on September 13, 2019," the proposal read.

The move – which can only go ahead if a consensus is reached – was blocked by Russia, according to Reuters. 

"Our support in the future is possible, but conditioned by provision of an irrefutable evidence of their involvement in killing of civilian populations," Reuters cited a Russian diplomat as saying in a note to his Security Council colleagues.

Read also: Libyan government forces find mass graves, possible evidence of war crimes, in Tarhuna

The proposal was made after mass graves were discovered in the city of Tarhuna after the internationally recognised Government of National Accord reclaimed it in June from the Kaniyat militia –which fought alongside renegade commander Khalifa Haftar.

The victims included women and children – some were buried alive, according to forensic reports.

At the time, Libya's UN-backed GNA government Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala sent a letter to the UN Security Council asking the Hague-based court to launch a probe.

The Libyan minister blamed the increasing violence and casualties discovered in mass graves on what he called a "silence" from the council regarding previous violations by the militant group.

The internationally-recognised GNA has been under attack for over a year by forces loyal to Haftar, who has received backing from the Egypt and Russia. The commander launched an offensive to seize Tripoli from the GNA, starting a violent conflict that has killed at least 1,000 people.

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