Russia has stopped a UN Security Council committee from blacklisting a Libyan armed group and its leader for human rights abuses.
Russia issued a statement saying it wanted to see more evidence first that the militia killed civilians.
The United States and Germany proposed the council’s 15-member Libya sanctions committee impose an asset freeze and travel ban on the al-Kaniyat militia and its leader Mohammed al-Kani.
Russia said it could not approve such a move which is usually agreed by consensus.
“Our support in the future is possible, but conditioned by provision of an irrefutable evidence of their involvement in killing of civilian populations,” a Russian diplomat told his Security Council colleagues on Friday.
The Libyan city of Tarhuna, which was recaptured in June by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), had for years been controlled by al-Kaniyat run by the local Kani family, which fought alongside renegade commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).
At least 12 bodies from four more unmarked graves in Tarhuna were dug out last month by Libyan authorities, adding to the many corpses already discovered since June.
The North African country descended into chaos after the NATO-backed overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Last month, the two major sides in the country’s war – the GNA and the LNA – agreed on a ceasefire.
The United States and Germany wrote in their sanctions proposal that international human rights groups and the UN political mission in Libya, known as UNSMIL, has “received reports of hundreds of human rights abuses perpetrated by the al-Kaniyat militia against private individuals, state officials, captured fighters, and civil society activists in Tarhouna”.
“Under Mohammed al-Kani’s leadership, the al-Kaniyat militia has reportedly carried out enforced disappearances, torture, and killings. In addition, UNSMIL verified numerous summary executions at Tarhouna Prison conducted by the al-Kaniyat militia on September 13, 2019,” part of the proposal said.