But HRW said that “under the laws of war, the killing of captured combatants is a war crime, and Libyan civilian and military authorities have an obligation to investigate war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law.”
The group released its report days before Libya celebrates “liberation day,” the anniversary of Sirte’s fall on Oct. 23. Since then, the country’s new leaders have heavily depended on former rebel militias to secure cities and protect borders in the absence of a strong national army or other government security forces.
Calls for militias to be brought under the control of the defense or interior ministries have met resistance from some fighters.
Meanwhile, some groups have been implicated in revenge attacks and communal strife, while members of one Islamist militia have been accused of taking part in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city Benghazi on Sept. 11 that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
In the aftermath of Stevens’ death, popular resentment surged and thousands took to the streets of Benghazi demanding the dismantlement of the militias. The government has taken over some militia headquarters and appointed military officers to run the groups, and designated some “outlawed” and others “tolerated.”