Watching the Shadows
internet ban protest

Internet censorship laws advance worldwide

The United Nations Human Rights Office expressed concern over Turkey’s adoption of legal measures “that risk substantially curtailing freedom of expression in the country.” A package of laws passed by the Turkish parliament could see journalists and activists imprisoned for up to three years for spreading “disinformation.” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni meanwhile signed the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act into law, which advocacy group Unwanted Witness called a “looming nightmare to the freedom of expression and speech.” Last month, Tunisian authorities promulgated Decree No. 54 on Combating Crimes Related to Information & Communication Systems, imposing five years imprisonment for spreading “fake news.” (Photo of Turkish free-speech demonstration via Wikimedia Commons)

North Africa
libya

Libya: new fighting between rival governments

Heavy fighting broke out in Libya’s capital city of Tripoli, killing at least 32 people and raising concerns of a return to all-out war. Civilians were reportedly among those killed and injured in the clashes between forces loyal to Libya’s two rival governments: a Tripoli-based Government of National Unity headed by Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, and a House of Representatives based in the eastern city of Tobruk that chose its own prime minister for the country, Fathi Bashagha, in February. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
Morocco

Morocco: Melilla massacre survivors get prison

A court in Nador, Morocco, sentenced 33 migrants, mostly from Sudan and South Sudan, to 11 months behind bars for “illegal entry” into the country and “disobedience.” The 33 are among the hundreds who last month attempted to enter Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla, sparking a violent response from authorities. Some 2,000 migrants stormed the heavily fortified border between the Moroccan region of Nador and the Spanish enclave, with many trying to scale the border wall. They were repelled by Moroccan and Spanish security forces, with up to 27 killed. The African Union is calling for an investigation into the repression. (Map: PCL Map Collection)

North Africa
libya

UN releases evidence of mass graves in Libya

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) released a report containing evidence of mass graves in the Libyan city of Tarhuna, southeast of Tripoli. The report estimates there could be as many as 100 undiscovered mass graves in the city. It claims that the al-Kaniyat militia, in power in Tarhuna from 2016 to 2020, is responsible for mass killings there. The militia is alleged to have used brutal torture methods on residents including women, children, the infirm, and the disabled. UNSMIL calls on Libyan authorities to “[e]stablish a Special Tribunal for Tarhuna to prosecute international crimes” and “[c]ontinue searching for the missing and for remaining mass graves…” (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
libya

Russian mercenaries accused in Libya atrocities

A report to the Security Council by a panel of UN human rights experts finds that foreign fighters and private military companies are responsible for grave abuses in Libya—especially naming Russia’s Wagner Group. The report was classified “confidential,” but a copy was leaked to the Associated Press. It finds that both Turkish-backed militias loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) and the Wagner Group, apparently contracted by eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, have employed mercenaries who were veterans of the war in Syria. GNA-aligned militias are implicated in abuses of migrants, who have been “regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture.” The Wager Group is accused of planting unmarked anti-personnel mines on the southern periphery of Tripoli, when the city was besieged by Haftar’s forces from April 2019 to October 2020. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
Libya detainee

Libya: militia accused of grave abuses against migrants

A report from Amnesty International finds that a militia funded and backed by Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Unity is responsible for a litany of crimes, including unlawful killings, torture, rape, forced labor, and the interception and return of migrants and refugees to the country’s notorious detention centers. Created by government decree in January 2021, the Stability Support Authority (SSA) is commanded by one of the most powerful militia leaders in Tripoli, Abdel Ghani al-Kikli AKA “Gheniwa.” who was appointed despite a well-documented history of crimes and other serious human rights violations committed by forces under his command. (Photo: Alessio Romenz/UNICEF)

North Africa
libya

ICC reveals Libya investigation strategy

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim AA Khan revealed a new strategy for the ongoing investigation into the situation in Libya to the UN Security Council. The ICC investigation focuses on accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Libya since the outbreak of the revolution against Moammar Qaddafi’s government in February 2011. The investigation also covers three unexecuted arrest warrants issued by the ICC. The ICC began its investigation in March 2011. Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute. Therefore, the ICC derives its jurisdiction for this investigation from a unanimous reference by the Security Council in Resolution 1970. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
libya

Libya’s two prime ministers

Libya’s eastern-based parliament chose a new prime minister for the country, former interior minister Fathi Bashagha. The only problem… Libya already has an interim prime minister: Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, chosen by a UN-led process to head the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. Dbeibah was supposed to guide the fractured country through presidential elections in December, but they were postponed after contestation over the rules governing the process. Dbeibah had promised not to run for president but put his hat in the ring anyway, with the rules apparently mandating that he step down as prime minister three months before the polls—which he did not do. The Tobruk-based parliament says the deadline means Dbeibah’s time is up, but he says he won’t hand over power until elections take place. He reportedly survived an assassination attempt shortly before the parliament’s move to replace him. None of this bodes well for Libyans’ long quest for a united country. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
Tunis

Tunisia: president dissolves Supreme Judicial Council

Tunisian President Kais Saied officially dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, sending police to seal the chamber where the body meets. The Council’s head, Youssef Bouzakher, called the dissolution “illegal,” and said it is aimed at bringing Tunisia’s jurists under control of the executive. Established in 2016, the Council is a constitutional body entrusted with ensuring the independence of the judiciary, responsible for appointing judges and taking disciplinary action. Bouzakher said the Council intends to continue working in defiance of the president’s announcement. The move is a further consolidation of Saied’s power following his “self-coup” last year, in which Tunisia’s parliament was suspended. (Photo: XLR Media via Twitter)

North Africa
libya protest

Migrant protest camp broken up in Libya

More than 600 asylum-seekers and migrants were detained when Libyan security forces cleared a protest encampment in front of an aid center run by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in the capital city of Tripoli. The protesters—who were asking for protection, and evacuation from Libya—had been camped out since last October, when Libyan security forces violently rounded up more than 5,000 asylum-seekers and migrants, forcing them into notoriously grim detention centers. Before the raid on the protest camp, UNHCR permanently closed the center in Tripoli, leaving thousands without humanitarian assistance. The Norwegian Refugee Council said the most recent arrests were the “culmination of a disastrous situation,” and MĂ©decins Sans Frontières called on the EU to “stop supporting…an unending system of detention, abuse, and violence in Libya.” The EU backs the Libyan Coast Guard, which intercepted more than 32,000 asylum-seekers and migrants at sea last year, returning them to detention centers. (Photo: Kaka Fur via InfoMigrants)

North Africa
tunisia

Tunisia: political crisis deepens

Tunisia’s former president Moncef Marzouki was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison, convicted of “undermining the external security of the State.” The charge is evidently a reference to his calls on social media for protest against current President KaĂŻs Saied, and for an end to French support of Saied’s regime. Marzouki calls Saied a “dictator,” and accuses him of having conducted a coup when he suspended parliament and fired the prime minister amid a wave of national unrest in July. (Image: Pixabay)