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The United States Sanctions Libyan Individual and Militia Connected to Serious Human Rights Abuse in Libya
November 28, 2020


NOVEMBER 27, 2020

On Wednesday, the United States imposed sanctions on Mohamed al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia in connection with the massacre of hundreds of civilians in recent years. Al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia, which al-Kani leads, are designated pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets serious human rights abuse and corruption. Prior to a de facto truce in Libya reached in June 2020 and while aligned in 2019-2020 with the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) offensive against the Libyan capital, the Kaniyat militia conducted a campaign of extrajudicial violence in the Tripoli region. Following the end of the Tripoli offensive, Libyan Government of National Accord-aligned forces re-entered the town of Tarhouna and discovered at least 11 mass graves containing the bodies of civilians previously detained by the Kaniyat militia – the bodies included those of women, children, and the elderly. Some of the deceased reportedly appeared to have been tortured, burned, or buried alive. Months later, bodies are still being recovered from additional mass graves.

The U.S. Government nominated al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia to the UN Security Council’s 1970 Libya Sanctions List on November 13. We are deeply disappointed that Russia blocked the proposed designations, especially in light of the well documented human rights violations. Russian intransigence only reinforces the need for the international community to seek accountability and end impunity, which has fueled the conflict in Libya.

We remain concerned about Libyan and external actors working to undermine stability in Libya and UN peace efforts, including the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. The United States continues to support the international fact-finding mission; the Berlin Process, including its International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Working Group; and Libyan authorities working in Tarhouna to address cases of missing persons.

These designations show that the United States will take concrete actions in response to serious human rights abuse which contributes to the undermining of Libya’s peace, security, and stability.