The UK government on May 20 imposed sanctions on Libya’s al-Kaniyat militia and its leaders for violations of international law. The militia is reportedly responsible for 27 mass graves containing the remains of hundreds of residents reported missing in the Libyan town of Tarhuna, on the southern outskirts of Tripoli. The group, aligned with the forces of eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, is additionally held responsible for atrocities such as torture, murder, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearance between 2014 and 2020. The UK has imposed the sanctions under the Sanctions & Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.
James Cleverly, the UK Minister of the Middle East and North Africa, stated upon the imposition of the sanctions:
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 al-Kaniyat militia and its leaders, Mohamed al-Kani and Abdurahem al-Kani, oversaw a reign of terror in Tarhuna, Libya, 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.
Of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the UK and the US are the only two that have imposed sanctions on the militia. A Security Council resolution that would have placed international sanctions on the militia was last November blocked by Russia, Haftar’s principal foreign patron. (Jurist, Libyan Express, EU Today)
Photo collage of missing residents of Tarhuna via Human Rights Watch