On 21 September, Amnesty International called for the Libyan National Army (LNA) to ‘immediately lift all undue restrictions imposed on media and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to all affected communities’ in Derna and eastern Libya. In its statement, Amnesty said that on 18 September, following protests by Derna residents, the LNA increased restrictions on journalists and arrested critics and protestors, amid the LNA’s efforts to ‘choreograph and control media access.’ Journalists were instructed not to approach rescue teams, reported being followed the LNA’s military media agents and witnessed interpreters being asked by officials not to translate content critical of the authorities.
A UN spokesperson told media on 19 September that a UN team was ‘not authorized to proceed’ to Derna, while confirming that rescuers and humanitarian workers present in Derna were allowed to continue operating. Amnesty International also received reports about delays of aid reaching some affected areas, in part due to the plethora of checkpoints established by the LNA and about medical teams from western Libya and at least one international rescue team being instructed to leave.
Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said that the LNA ‘is resorting once again to its well-honed machinery of repression to silence criticism, muzzle civil society and evade responsibility.’ Amnesty called for ‘an independent international investigative mechanism on the human right situation in Libya’ in the absence of any meaningful prospects for accountability at the national level.