UN rights chief calls for action to halt Libya violence

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday called on the Libyan government to stop the violence directed at protesters [statement, text] within that nation. Pillay's statement, directed at Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile], reminded the UN Human Rights Council of the repeated calls by numerous nations for Gaddafi to renounce the use of violence. After describing accounts of the situation on the ground in Libya, Pillay reiterated the prior calls for a cessation to violence and called on the Council to rise to action:

[L]et us be clear that today's shocking and brutal situation is the direct outcome of a callous disregard for the rights and freedom of Libyans that has marked the almost four-decade long grip on power by the current ruler. Justice for ongoing as well as past abuses must be attained in order to be meaningful for all the victims. There can be no doubt about the need for action by this Council now. The Human Rights Council and its mechanisms should step in vigorously to help end violence in Libya and hold those perpetrating the atrocities accountable. The Council should use all means available to compel the Libyan Government to respect the human rights and heed the will of its people. The victims of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law deserve no less.
Also on Friday, the Libyan delegation to the UN disavowed any link to Gaddafi [Reuters report] in front of the Human Rights Council, with the Libyan envoy saying that his delegation represented the Libyan people.

The situation in Libya has escalated over days of continued protests and violent suppression by security forces. On Wednesday, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said that the ICC cannot investigate possible crimes in Libya [JURIST report] because the country is not a party to the Rome Statute [materials]. The statement came after Pillay said earlier this week that the Libyan government's response to recent protests may amount to crimes against humanity [JURIST report]. Pillay cited the use of machine guns, snipers and military planes against protesters, calling for an independent investigation. The protests began last week following those that have occurred throughout the Middle East and North Africa [BBC backgrounder], resulting in the resignations of Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak [JURIST reports]. Protesters have demanded Gaddafi's resignation and government reform.

 

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