Misurata militias trouble HRW

Feb. 22, 2012 at 11:09 AM
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TRIPOLI, Libya, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Authorities in Misurata, the former Libyan rebel capital, aren't doing enough to stop local militias from harassing displaced people, Human Rights Watch said.

The rights organization called on authorities in Misurata to order local militias to halt razing houses abandoned by the internally displaced.

"The Misurata authorities can definitely do a lot more to allow returns now and to protect civilian property," Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement from Tripoli. "They are required to take action to stop these crimes under international law."

Authorities in the former rebel capital told Human Rights Watch that some returning refugees had fought alongside pro-regime forces during the uprising last year. NATO forces intervened in Libya last year ostensibly to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

Libyan authorities this month enacted a series of laws that pave the way toward eventual elections. Voters in Misurata this week cast ballots in what's expected to be a model for the rest of the country.

Libyans haven't voted in an open election in more than 40 years.

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