Human Rights Watch: Russia’s Wagner Group planted landmines near Tripoli

New information from Libyan agencies and demining groups links the Wagner Group to the use of banned landmines and booby traps in Libya in 2019-2020, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

“The Wagner Group added to the deadly legacy of mines and booby traps scattered across Tripoli’s suburbs that has made it dangerous for people to return to their homes,” said Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“A credible and transparent international inquiry is needed to ensure justice for the many civilians and deminers unlawfully killed and maimed by these weapons.” She added.

Human Rights Watch said the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), mandated since 2011 to investigate war crimes and other grave crimes in Libya, should examine the role of Libyan and foreign armed groups in laying antipersonnel mines during the 2019-2020 conflict.

During a March visit to Tripoli, Human Rights Watch collected information from mine action groups that confirms that all 35 locations identified in the tablet were in fact mined, and that the Wagner Group was present in the mined areas at the time.

Human Rights Watch also documented the deaths of three deminers attempting to dismantle some of these mines. The deminers did not have access to the tablet or the information contained in it.

“Libya should ratify the Mine Ban Treaty and commit to a comprehensive prohibition of use of antipersonnel mines, promote humanitarian mine action, and assist survivors, Human Rights Watch said. Libya should also grant access for a country visit to the UN Working Group on Mercenaries, pending since at least 2018, to enable it to get firsthand information on the impact of foreign fighters in Libya and identify challenges.” The report added.

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