Amnesty International condemns yesterday’s bomb attack outside Al-Jalaa Hospital in Benghazi. The attack, which took place at approximately 3pm on 13 May, appears to have been the first bombing deliberately targeting Libyan civilians in post-conflict Libya.
According to state sources, at least three civilians are reported to have died, and some six persons were injured, including children. Exact figures have yet to be released, as the death toll is expected to be higher. No group has yet claimed responsibility for this attack.
Deliberately targeting civilians can never be justified. Those who carry out such attacks display complete disregard for the most fundamental principles of humanity. The Libyan authorities must investigate this attack promptly and thoroughly and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice in fair proceedings in line with international human rights standards and with no possibility of the death penalty. A failure to do so will contribute to a culture of impunity and atmosphere of lawlessness and risks being interpreted as a license to commit grave human rights abuses.
The security situation in Benghazi has been steadily deteriorating since the end of the 2011 conflict. Previously bomb attacks appear to have targeted state security agencies and officers, such as police stations, as well as former Internal Security and police officers. Libyan civilians are not known to previously have been deliberately attacked.
Since January 2013, there have been at least five bombings against police stations in Benghazi, including three since the beginning of May. These bombings follow the attack against the French embassy in Tripoli on 23 April and the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September 2011, which resulted in the death of ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Although suspected perpetrators were subsequently arrested in relation to this attack, the results of the investigation, as well as other attacks targeting police stations and former police officers have not been made public.