LIBYA PROTESTS: UN rights body urges Libya action 25Feb11 February 26, 2011

Aljazeera -  25 February 2011

The United Nation’s top human rights official says reports of mass killings in Libya should spur world leaders to “step in vigorously” to end the violent crackdown in Libya, and that the 47-nation body should use “all means possible”.

Friday’s session is the first time that the UN Human Rights Council has held a special session to discuss actions against one of its members, with Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner on Human Right, giving support for an independent panel to investigate the alleged abuses by Libyan security forces.

“Today’s brutal and shocking 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,” she said.

“Any official, at any level, ordering or carrying out atrocities and attacks can be held criminally accountable.”

Her comments come hours before a UN Security Council in New York meeting that will consider actions, including sanctions, against the government of Muammar Gaddafi.

Muslim condemnation

European nations have led the call for a UN-led investigation into possible war crimes and the use of sanctions against Libya.

France has already urged the body to approve a draft resolution that calls for a “total arms embargo, sanctions and asking the International Criminal Court to proceed over crimes against humanity”.

Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, said his country was also preparing sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes on Gaddafi’s family, but dismissed economic sanctions on the country as a whole.

Britain’s prime minister discussed the possibility of “multilateral measures” against Libya with Barack Obama, the US president, earlier in the week.

China and Russia, traditionally reluctant to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, have supported a statement from the security council issued on Tuesday that condemned “the repression against peaceful demonstrators,” and demanded an “immediate end to the violence”.

Charles Nduka Onianwa, Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN rights council, said it was “obvious … that the indiscriminate use of force against peaceful protesters should be condemned”.

Pakistan also said the 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference “condemn the use of force”.

“Muslims will no longer tolerate inequalities and injustice,” he told the council on Friday.

“A new dawn has come. The rules of the game have changed. Those who do not embrace it will be swept away.”

Possible next steps

Mark Lyall Grant, Britain’s UN ambassador, said on Thursday that members must look at possible next steps because Gaddafi had failed to heed the Security Council’s demand to end the violence, diplomats reported.

They said possible sanctions likely to be put on the table include travel bans and asset freezes against Gaddafi and top officials in his government, an arms embargo against the government, and imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.

Nato’s main decision-making body is also holding an emergency session on Friday to consider a response to the situation in Libya.

However, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Nato’s secretary general, has already said the military alliance had no intention of intervening in the north African nation, and had not received any requests to do so.

He said that priority must be given to evacuation and humanitarian assistance, and that NATO could act as an “enabler and coordinator” if individual member states wished to take action.

“What’s happening in Libya is of great concern to us. This crisis in our immediate neighbourhood affects Libyan civilians and many people from Nato allies,” Oana Lungescu, a Nato spokeswoman, said.

“Many countries are evacuating their citizens, clearly this is a massive challenge,” she said.


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