North Africa Libya

In Libya, Spanish cluster bombs, Belgian landmines…

Section of MAT-120 type cluster bomb used in Misratah © Amnesty international

(BRUSSELS2) European supplies seem to have been well used during the conflict in Libya. According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, the Gaddafi regime used 120mm MAT-120 cluster mortars produced by Spain. Fragments of MAT-120 submunitions found in Misrata by a New York Times journalist and examined by the NGO “ indicate that these weapons were manufactured by the Spanish company Instalaza SA in 2007 ". Gold " each such bomb carries 21 dual-purpose, anti-personnel and anti-materiel submunitions”. When a submunition explodes, multiple fragments are propelled at high speed capable of injuring or killing people.

Mines laid by rebels © BBC April 17

The opposition was also caught in the act, this time laying mines of Belgian origin. There with the BBC showed rebel fighters taking plastic anti-vehicle mines from their vehicles and placing them on the side of the main road in Ajdabiya. Mines identified by the NGO as PRB-M3 produced in Belgium in the 1970s and 1980s. This PRB-M3 mine is “ extremely difficult to detect as it is almost entirely made of plastic we estimate at Human Rights Watch. And she " can be fitted with a sensitive fuze, causing it to function as a landmine, posing a risk to civilians on foot and in vehicles ". Tens of thousands of these mines are stored in arms depots in Benghazi that rebel forces seized after the withdrawal of government forces in February, including variants of the PRB-M3 mine equipped with an auxiliary fuze which explode if someone tries to move the mine. NB: Spain destroyed its entire stock of mortars in 2008.

NB: Libya has not adhered to either the 1997 treaty on anti-personnel mines (signed by 156 countries) or the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (signed by 108 countries, ratified by 56).

Commitment of the CNT on mines

The president of the National Transitional Council (CNT), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has pledged not to use banned mines, according to a press release signed on April 27 in the presence of the NGO HRW. “ None of the forces under the command and control of the CNE will use anti-personnel or anti-vehicle landmines. » The Council also committed to “ destroy all landmines possessed by forces under its command and control " as well as " cooperate in mine clearance, risk awareness and victim assistance ". Any future Libyan government should abandon landmines and join the 1997 Landmine Ban Treaty ».

Condemnation from the European Union

On Friday, the European Union, through Cathy Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, condemned the use of cluster munitions against the civilian population. “ I call on the armed forces of Muammar Al Gaddafi to refrain from using force against the civilian population, whether by cluster munitions or any other means. All necessary measures must be taken to ensure that civilians are protected from the effects of these munitions, including unexploded remnants of these submunitions. »

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).