Amnesty International is accusing Khalifa Haftar'a militias, who are in de facto control of eastern Libya, including the flood-stricken city of Derna, of curtailing the media and hampering humanitarian aid efforts.
In its recent statement, the organization demanded that Haftar's self-styled army "must immediately lift all undue restrictions imposed on media and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to all affected communities."
The statement indicated that the restrictions on journalists came after thousands of residents and rescue workers gathered in front of the Sahaba Mosque last week, blaming negligence and corruption for the failure of two dams, which has killed thousands and displaced many more.
Amnesty International has learned from witnesses that Haftar's forces arrested several critics and protesters to "choreograph and control media access."
Haftar's media machine has been pushing a narrative that the protest included terrorists and casting the events in the context of conspiracy.
According to Amnesty, the protesters demanded support for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts and the resignation of politicians at the local and national levels.
"Entire neighbourhoods and families have been washed into the sea. Yet instead of focusing on facilitating humanitarian access to all affected communities, 'LAAF' is resorting once again to its well-honed machinery of repression to silence criticism, muzzle civil society, and evade responsibility,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
He demanded that Libyan authorities and those in de facto control of affected areas ensure that human rights are at the centre of the crisis response and refrain from reprisals against critics.