28 April 2011
The opposition authority in Libya, the National Transitional Council, has formally pledged not to use antipersonnel and antivehicle landmines. The council also promised to destroy all mines in its forces’ possession.
The pledge was made to Human Rights Watch on April 27, 2011, and in an official communiqué signed on April 28 by Abdulhafeeth Gogha, vice chairman of the National Transitional Council.
The decision marks a historic turning point in political direction of the modern state Libya, a country whose boundaries were set only relatively recently, after WWII.
This decision follows an earlier incident when opposition forces were shown in a BBC news report on April 17 removing plastic anti-vehicle mines from their vehicles and then placing them on the side of the main road into Ajdabiya. Two witnesses also told told Human Rights Watch that opposition forces had transferred anti-vehicle mines from Benghazi to Misurata, a move that was not authorised by the TNC, according to the field commander of opposition forces in eastern Libya, Gen. Khalifa Hufter and head of the Military Council, Omar Hariri.
“The decision by Libya’s opposition forces to reject landmines is terrific because mines have killed and maimed so many civilians around the world,” said Steve Goose, Arms director at Human Rights Watch. “We urge the National Transitional Council to implement its decision right away, and we call on the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi to make the same commitment on behalf of civilians in war.”
The communiqué on landmines states that “no forces under the command and control of the NTC will use antipersonnel or anti-vehicle landmines.” The council pledged to destroy all landmines possessed by forces under its command and control, and to “cooperate in the provision of mine clearance, risk education, and victim assistance.”
Any future Libya government should “relinquish landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty,” the communiqué said.
(Human Rights Watch)