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UN human rights chief calls for international action on Libya 'war crimes'

The UN human rights chief has called on the world to do more to bring rights violators in Libya to justice. His appeal comes in the wake of a report detailing abuse that could amount to war crimes.

In a statement released on Thursday, Zeid Raad al-Hussein said all sides in Libya's conflict had likely committed a range of human rights abuses, including torture, rape and beheadings, which have been documented in a UN report issued the same day.

"A multitude of actors, both state and non-state, are accused of very serious violations and abuses that may, in many cases, amount to war crimes," said Zeid, who is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

He called on the Security Council to increase monitoring in Libya and to "take action" against the perpetrators.

"One of the most striking elements of this report lies in the complete impunity which continues to prevail in Libya and the systemic failures of the justice system," his statement said.

Range of atrocities

Thursday's report, compiled by six UN human rights officers, contains evidence of violations including executions of captives, widespread torture, sexual crimes and abuse of children.

The report details credible accounts of women being raped by guards in migrant camps and of torture in at least 22 places of detention.

The 95-page report is based on interviews with 200 witnesses and victims and 900 individual complaints stemming from the period between 2014 and 2015. It warned that the situation in Libya had deteriorated dramatically during that period, although the country already fell into virtual lawlessness in 2011 after the toppling of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Breeding ground for crime

Among other things, the power vacuum has allowed the radical

"Islamic State" group

to increase its foothold in the country, though the report details how most major armed groups in the country have carried out "unlawful killings."

Libya is largely divided between two rival administrations, but their control of the country is limited, with a variety of militant groups holding sway in different areas.

Human traffickers have also exploited the lack of law and order to use the country as an outlet for

transporting migrants to Europe.

A unity government has been nominated under a UN-backed plan, but it has so far

failed to win approval

in the country or to move there.

tj/jil (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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