Ban Ki-moon says Libya should end rights abuses

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2012 5:39 PM
Ban Ki-moon says Libya should end rights abuses

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that Libyan authorities should address human rights violations after a U.N. report found both sides committed war crimes during last year's conflict and that killing, torture and pillage were ongoing.

Ban also noted that U.N. Human Rights Council investigators found that NATO "did not deliberately target civilians" in Libya airstrikes. Russia had criticized the investigators for failing to adequately probe deaths caused by NATO bombs.

"The Secretary-General has made clear his view that the actions taken by the international community were consistent with the relevant Security Council resolutions," Ban's office said in a statement.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin criticized Ban last year for suggesting that NATO had fully complied with its U.N. Security Council mandate to protect civilians in Libya.

"We expect the (U.N.) secretariat to be more careful when it passes its judgment on very important issues which the Security Council is dealing with," he said at the time.

The statement from Ban's office said the secretary-general was "aware of the positions members of the Security Council have expressed on this issue."

Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule collapsed when his forces fled Tripoli in August, and nine months of fighting in Libya ended in October when he was captured and killed by rebels.

But the U.N. human rights agency has accused Libyan revolutionary brigades of torturing detainees, many of whom are sub-Saharan Africans suspected of fighting for the toppled government of Gaddafi.

"The Secretary-General believes the report and recommendations of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya provide a strong basis for the Libyan authorities to address human rights issues in Libya," the statement said.

Accusations of the mistreatment and disappearances of suspected Gaddafi loyalists are embarrassing for Libya's ruling National Transitional Council, which has vowed to make a break with practices under Gaddafi and respect human rights.

It is also awkward for the Western powers which backed the anti-Gaddafi rebellion and helped install Libya's new leaders.

Up to 6,000 detainees remain in brigade facilities as a lack of judicial police prevents the government from taking control of more jails, according to the United Nations.

The U.N. Human Rights Council inquiry found that both sides in the Libyan conflict committed war crimes and also alleged that forces loyal to Gaddafi committed crimes against humanity.

It also recommended that the Libyan government further investigate the causes of the death of Gaddafi and human rights violations committed by the former opposition.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)