27 May 2011

Amnesty International (AI) has reported discovering newly laid antipersonnel mines last week in a residential area of the city of Misrata. The mines are Brazilian produced plastic T-AB-1. This is the same type that was used by the government forces in March on the outskirts of the town of Ajdabiya, as reported by Human Rights Watch.

According to AI the antipersonnel mines found in Misrata were planted on a side road leading to a house that served as a base of government forces, which until recently controlled Misrata. The mines have been cleared and reportedly are now kept by the rebel forces at their military camp.

The rebels told AI they were awaiting international assistance to destroy them.On 27 May the Commander of the NATO military operation in Libya confirmed that the government forces used mines in the Misrata area. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) condemns this reported use of antipersonnel mines by the Libyan Armed Forces in Misrata, as it has condemned all previous instances of antipersonnel mine use in Libya and elsewhere. Last month, Human Rights Watch and other ICBL member organizations present in Libya helped convince the rebel leadership - the National Transitional Council - to sign a formal communiqué committing its forces to not use landmines, as well as to clear and destroy all mines in their possession.

The ICBL continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Libya to prohibit the use of antipersonnel mines by their forces and urges the clearance and destruction of all landmines in Libya.The ban on antipersonnel mines has become a widely accepted international norm since the adoption of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Myanmar (Burma) is the only other government in recent years to use antipersonnel mines. Libya is one of 39 states outside that remain outside the treaty.

A total of 156 nations have joined the Mine Ban Treaty since it was adopted in 1997, while two states have signed but not yet ratified (Marshall Islands and Poland). Under the Mine Ban Treaty, states must renounce use of antipersonnel mines, destroy their stockpiles of the weapon, clear all their mined areas, and provide comprehensive assistance to landmine survivors.