UN top official calls for international probe on Libya

Meeting convened at urging of Libyan UN mission; Libya's deputy UN ambassador warns Gaddafi must resign or "people will get rid of them."

February 22, 2011 21:51
2 minute read.
Unrest in Benghazi, Libya

Libyan flag over protests. (photo credit: AP)


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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called Tuesday for an international investigation into the violent actions of the Libyan government against its own citizens and for an immediate halt to its grave human rights violations.

“The callousness with which Libyan authorities and their hired guns are reportedly shooting live rounds of ammunition at peaceful protesters is unconscionable.

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I am extremely worried that lives are being lost even as I speak,” Pillay said.

“The international community must unite in condemnation of such acts and make unequivocal commitments to ensure justice is rendered to the thousands of victims of this repression.”

There have been reports that machine guns, snipers and military planes were used against demonstrators, Pillay said.

There must be a full investigation into such acts, she said, and added that the resources of her office could be used toward such an investigation.

Separately, at the UN in Geneva, a number of UN human rights experts also said that the actions of the Libyan government could amount to “crimes against humanity.”

“Such acts cannot go unpunished,” stressed the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, Christof Heyns.

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“By engaging in a massacre of its own people, the government of Libya is guilty of committing gross violations of human rights which could amount to crimes against humanity,” Heyns said.

“We are also dismayed at reports of the alleged involvement of foreign ‘mercenaries’ in the killing of protesters, which is utterly reprehensible,” underscored José Luis Gómez del Prado, chairperson-rapporteur of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries.

El Hadji Malick Sow, Chair-Rapporteur for the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, said he was concerned by reports that lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists had been arrested.

“In addition, it appears that the authorities are attempting to restrict the dissemination of information on the atrocities being committed by cutting off landlines, Internet access and restricting media coverage,” said the special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue.

“It is important that the Libyan authorities realize that those responsible could be prosecuted by international criminal justice mechanisms or through universal jurisdiction,” warned the special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Méndez.

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