Libyan regime and opposition committed 'war crimes': UN

1st June 2011, Comments 0 comments

A UN panel on Wednesday accused Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime of carrying out systematic attacks on the population, saying that it committed not only war crimes but also crimes against humanity.

While it found fewer reports of violations by the opposition, the commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council also found that rebel forces committed acts that constituted war crimes.

"In accordance with its mandate to look also at crimes committed in Libya, the commission has ... reached the conclusion that crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed by the government forces of Libya," said the commission in a statement.

"The commission received fewer reports of facts which would amount to the commission of international crimes by opposition forces, however did find some acts which would constitute war crimes," it added.

The 47-member UN Human Rights Council set up the investigation into suspected crimes against humanity in February after Kadhafi's regime dispatched Libya's army and air force to fire on civilians.

The team found evidence suggesting that Kadhafi's forces "used excessive force against demonstrators, at least in the early days of the protests, leading to significant deaths and injuries."

In addition, the regime impeded access to hospitals, as well as carried out arbitrary detentions and torture.

"The commission has found that there have been acts ... that were committed by government forces as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack," said the panel.

"Such acts fall within the meaning of 'crimes against humanity'," it noted.

While it had received fewer reports of violations by opposition forces, the panel nevertheless found that some acts of torture carried out on people in detention, migrant workers and others believed to be mercenaries, constitute war crimes.

Led by former UN war crimes investigator Cherif Bassiouni of Egypt, the panel of investigators also includes Jordanian lawyer Asma Khader and Canadian Philippe Kirsch, a former judge and president of the International Criminal Court.

During its probe, it travelled to Libya and met with over 350 people, including detainees in Libya and others who had been displaced. It also studied over 5,000 pages of documents, more than 580 videos and over 2,200 photographs.

© 2011 AFP

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