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January 17, 2019

Russia, China abstain on UN vote to punish Libya rapists

Russia, China abstain on UN vote to punish Libya rapists
'Migrants in Libya, such as these women seen at a Tripoli shelter, are often victims of sexual violence, according to UN officials' - By: AFP/File Mahmud TURKIA

Russia and China on Monday refused to back a UN resolution that will allow the Security Council to slap sanctions on perpetrators of rape and sexual violence in Libya.

The British-drafted resolution renewing sanctions on Libya was adopted by a vote of 13 in favor in the 15-member council.

Russia and China abstained but did not use their veto power to block the measure that expanded the criteria for applying sanctions to include gender-based violence.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the Netherlands and Sweden, which pushed for the new sanctions criteria, of trying to score political points at home.

"This is populism distilled in its purest form," Nebenzia told the council, who noted that preventing sex crimes in Sweden and the Netherlands "is the remit of the national governments."

"Sexual and gender-based violence are part of crime in any specific country," said the ambassador, adding that the council should focus on threats to international security.

The council has added sexual violence as a criteria for sanctions in recent resolutions on the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Swedish Deputy Ambassador Carl Skau said he hoped that adding the new sanctions criteria will have a "deterrent effect and that there will be accountability for such crimes."

Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom said it was "an important step forward" for the UN council to slap sanctions on perpetrators of sexual violence "for instance in the refugee camps that rape women refugees."

UN officials have warned that militia members, migrant smugglers and criminal gangs often resort to rape in Libya, which has descended into chaos since the ouster of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The council in June for the first time imposed sanctions on six individuals linked to Libyan migrant trafficking networks.

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