Security Council extends U.N. Support Mission in Libya mandate

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The U.N. Security Council extended the mandate of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Thursday as well as the Panel of Experts assisting the Libya Sanctions Committee for 12 more months.

The Security Council raised new concerns on the flow of arms from Libya into neighboring countries and about thousands of captives held in secret by militias.

A resolution, which eased a U.N. arms embargo to allow non-lethal equipment into Libya, highlighted “the illicit proliferation of all arms and related material of all types” since the fall of Libya’s longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

The 15-nation body said heavy and small weapons and surface-to-air missiles were involved and stressed the “negative impact on regional and international peace and security.”

“There are suggestions that weapons are going out through the southern borders of Libya to countries in the region,” Britain’s U.N. ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said.

“We know that in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of Qaddafi, quite a number of weapons flowed into Mali and Niger,” the envoy told reporters.

U.N. experts who monitor sanctions against Libya have “found that the proliferation of weapons from Libya had continued at a worrying scale and spread into new territory,” said Rwanda’s U.N. ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana, chairman of the Libya sanctions committee.

Qaddafi was deposed and killed in October, 2011 and many foreign fighters who had been part of his forces fled -- taking arms with them.

Western intelligence reports have indicated some of the arms are reaching Al-Qaeda linked groups operating in Sahel countries.

The U.N. envoy to Libya, Tarek Mitri, told the Council that “the country remains awash with unsecured weapons and munitions that continue to pose a regional security risk, given Libya’s porous borders.”

The council eased an arms embargo so that Libya can now buy non-lethal equipment such as armored cars and body armor without U.N. permission.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said last month he wanted the U.N. to lift the weapons embargo imposed in 2011. But he made no official request, and diplomats said Zeidan had not raised the matter in talks in New York.

Zeidan told the council his government was speeding up the training of police and judiciary officials and seeking to end the plight of thousands of people, many from other African countries, held secretly by militias since the fall of Qaddafi.

The council resolution expressed “grave concern” over reports of “mistreatment, torture and extrajudicial executions” in detention centers.

It called for the “immediate release of all foreign nationals illegally detained in Libya.”

Mitri said his mission “continues to highlight the plight of detainees, particularly those held in secret detention facilities, including farms and private homes” across Libya.

“We are equally concerned by allegations of a number of deaths in custody,” he said, while praising Zeidan’s efforts “to build a modern, democratic, and accountable state.”

The resolution, which extended the U.N. mission in Libya for a year, authorized a sanctions monitoring committee to lift an asset freeze against the Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio “as soon as practical” and ensure the assets are used to help Libya’s people.

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