North Africa Theater

Tunisia: protest xenophobic attacks on Black Africans

Amnesty International on March 10 called on Tunisia to put an immediate end to racist and xenophobic attacks targeting Black African migrants. The violence began in early February and was exacerbated by a racially-charged speech by President Kais Saied at a National Security Council meeting on Feb. 21. President Saied said that "hordes of irregular migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa" had come to Tunisia, "with all the violence, crime, and unacceptable practices that entails." He said this was an "unnatural" situation and part of a criminal plan designed to "change the demographic make-up" and turn Tunisia into "just another African country that doesn't belong to the Arab and Islamic nations any more."

Algeria: mass death sentence targets Kabylia activists

Amnesty International on Jan. 9 condemned the death sentences of 54 individuals linked by Algerian prosecutors to the lynching of activist Djamel Ben Ismail amid wildfires in the Kabylie region in August 2021. Amnesty alleged that numerous fair trial violations occurred during the mass proceedings in November 2022. Amnesty also raised alarm about claims of torture, and prosecution of individuals due to their political affiliations.

Libya: 'rampant crimes' by Hafar-aligned militia

Amnesty International on Dec. 19 accused armed group Tariq Ben Zeyad (TBZ) of committing "rampant" war crimes and human rights abuses to enforce the rule of the so-called Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) and its leader Khalifa Haftar. The report details incidences of forced disappearances, unlawful killings, torture, and mistreatment of detained migrants and refugees. The LAAF, previously known as the Libyan National Army, controls the eastern portion of Libya and several cities, including Benghazi, Derna, Sirte, Tobruk, and areas outside Tripoli. The TBZ is headed by Haftar's son Saddam, and Amnesty states that it exists primarily to enforce his rule through a campaign of terror. (Amnesty International, Jurist)

Mass grave unearthed in Libya

Authorities in Libya announced Oct. 2 that they had discovered a mass grave containing 42 bodies in Sirte, a city that was once the so-called Islamic State's capital in the country. Libya's Missing Persons Authority said the bodies were found in a school, and samples were taken at a local hospital so that the victims could be identified.

Libya: new fighting between rival governments

Heavy fighting broke out in Libya's capital city of Tripoli on Aug. 27, 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.

Morocco: Melilla massacre survivors get prison

A court in Nador, Morocco, on July 20 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 on June 24 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. (InfoMigrants, RFI, AP, TNH)

UN releases evidence of mass graves in Libya

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on July 4 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.

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 Accord (GNA) and the Wagner Group, apparently contracted by eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, have employed mercenaries who were veterans of the internal war in Syria. The 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 an October 2020 ceasefire.

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