March 21 (UPI) — Seven years after the U.S. and NATO-led effort to remove Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, armed groups are committing human rights abuses and people are being sold in slave markets, according to United Nations officials.
Andrew Gilmour, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, said the situation in Libya has not improved since Gaddafi was toppled and killed in 2011. Armed groups with no connection to the government have proliferated throughout the country and are detaining people arbitrarily and subjecting them to torture and murder.
“Extrajudicial and unlawful killings are rampant,” Gilmour said. “In what has become an increasing pattern in and around Benghazi over the last two years, more bodies with signs of torture and hands bound were found in the streets.”
Gilmour also said there are “absolutely intolerable” reports of captured migrants being bought and sold in open slave markets.
Reports of slave markets have persisted since at least April 2017, when the U.N. published reports of West African migrants being captured and sold in Libya.
Gilmour called on the U.N. member states for a broader engagement on human rights issues in Libya, including working with security forces there.
Libyan authorities denied that the situation was as dire as Gilmour described but acknowledged it had little resources to combat organized crime and terrorism.