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Report Finds Gaddafi Weapons Pose Threat to Civilians.

Abandoned Weapons and the Threat to Libya's Civilians Explosive Situation Methodology for the report: Abandoned weapons that were once part of Muammar Gaddafi's vast arsenal threaten civilian lives in Libya, according to a report released Thursday by Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC), in partnership with CIVIC and the Centre for American Progress.

documents the risks posed to civilians from the extensive stockpiling and spread of the former dictator's munitions following the 2011 armed conflict.

Based on in-country investigations, the report calls on Libya to immediately secure or destroy unstable stockpiles of weapons, and with international support, set out to clear munitions, educate the population about risks, and assist victims.

Bonnie Docherty, senior clinical instructor at IHRC and leader of the research team said: "These weapons may have been abandoned, but their ability to harm civilians remains intact. We've seen firsthand the risks they pose to ordinary Libyans and how they urgently need to be secured or destroyed before they can harm another civilian." While previous reporting has focused on the problems of international proliferation, examines how abandoned weapons endanger civilians within Libya. Gaddafi left an arsenal of tens of thousands of tons of weapons, ranging from bullets and mortars to torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles.

The report focuses on four major challenges for the transitional government of Libya: stockpile management, clearance of munitions, risk education, and victim assistance.

International deminers told the team that the scale of the problem overshadows what they have seen in other conflict and post-conflict zones.

"Arms are spilling out of hundreds of inadequately secured bunkers," Nicolette Boehland, an IHRC researcher for the report currently in Libya with CIVIC said. "Other weapons have spread across the country to militia stockpiles in urban centers, museums, fields, and even homes." The report identified several specific areas of risk, including: ' Civilians displaying weapons as mementos of war or harvesting explosive materials for marketable parts; ' Children playing with weapons; ' Clearance of munitions by untrained community members; and ' Mismanagement of potentially unstable stockpiles by Libyan militias in populated areas.

The report said it finds what it describes as 'the weak and transitional Libyan government' has taken a limited, at times non-existent, role in the management and clearance of abandoned ordnance; there is no national strategy and confusion within the government about which agency has jurisdiction over the problem.

It goes on to accuse the transitional government pn providing virtually no support to UN and non-profit organisations that have done most of the work on the issue. According to legal principles and international standards, however, Libya bears primary responsibility for addressing the abandoned ordnance problem and should put in place a national plan to reduce the threat to civilians.

"The recent election of a new government provides Libya an opportunity for a fresh start," said Docherty. "The ordnance problem is not an easy one to fix, but with assistance from other countries, the new government can respond to the abandoned weapons situation and better protect its people." 'Explosive Situation builds on an IHRC field investigation in March 2012 as well as follow-up in-country research in July 2012. IHRC visited sites with abandoned ordnance and interviewed dozens of representatives of the UN and nongovernmental organizations, national and local government officials, and community members. It also conducted extensive legal research.

2012 - The Tripoli Post

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Publication:The Tripoli Post (Tripoli, Libya)
Geographic Code:6LIBY
Date:Aug 2, 2012
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