The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has called for an immediate investigation into the mistreatment of Egyptian labourers in the Libyan city of Tarhuna.
“UNSMIL expresses its concern about the arrest, detention, and mistreatment of a large number of Egyptian citizens in Tarhuna city, in what may constitute a violation of Libya’s obligations under international human rights law regarding the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the mission said in a Tuesday statement.
UNSMIL called for the authorities in Tripoli to reveal the fate and whereabouts of these Egyptian nationals, and ensure they are treated according to international standards.
UNSMIL’s statement came after a video circulated showing what appeared to be forces loyal to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) abusing and mistreating several Egyptian nationals.
Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) spokesperson Ahmed Al-Mismari said that they were able to locate and identify the perpetrators behind the video. Al-Mismari said on Sunday in televised remarks to the Sada El-Balad that the video “was shot at the headquarters of the Al-Hazm militia affiliated with the GNA in Misrata”.
He added, “We were not able to identify the total number of Egyptian labourers kidnapped and abused by GNA loyal forces.”
He added, however, that there looked to be about 19 or 20 Egyptian nationals shown in the video.
“These are innocent people and have nothing to do with the Libyan conflict,” Al-Mismari said, adding that the labourers “paid the price of the support of the Egyptian stance in the Libyan crisis.”
Al-Mismari offered his apologies to Egypt’s people and leadership, saying, “These awful acts do not represent the morals of Libyan people but of the militias supported by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,”
The incident triggered outrage among Egyptian officials and MPs. Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal and Minister of State for Emigration and Egyptian Expatriates’ Affairs Nabila Makram said on Sunday that Egypt will take a tough stance against the abuse of Egyptian labourers in Libya.
Makram said that the Egyptian state will never allow the assault or mistreatment of its labourers abroad.
MP Mustafa Bakri called for expelling the GNA ambassador to Egypt, in protest to “the kidnapping and abuse of 200 Egyptian labourers in Tarhuna and other areas in western Libya.”
The GNA’s Interior Ministry said it will investigate the incident and hold perpetrators accountable, describing it as “a criminal act that violates all international and local charters and laws.”
Since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has undergone years of conflict. The oil-rich country has been split between two parties since 2014, the GNA based in Tripoli, and the LAAF in Benghazi.