Human Rights First Commend the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council’s Swift Action on Libya

Posted: March 1, 2011 in News and Views

Press Release: Human Rights Watch

Washington, DC – Human Rights First today commended the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council for taking swift and clear action on Libya. On Saturday, the Security Council imposed a travel ban, an arms embargo and asset freeze against the Libyan regime. It also unanimously agreed to refer the Libyan situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a necessary step to enable the Court to consider criminal charges against individuals implicated in human rights abuses in Libya, since Libya is not a party to the International Criminal Court Treaty.

“While these measures will take time to take effect, they send an unequivocal message that the international community will not stand idly by in the face of gross violations of human rights,” said Human Rights First’s Gabor Rona.

UN Security Council

Rona notes that the unanimous Security Council decision to engage the ICC is welcome not only as a measure of accountability for the atrocities being committed in Libya, but as a vote of confidence for the ICC itself. Permanent UN Security Council members China and the U.S. are also not parties to the ICC, but their vote in favor of the referral demonstrates strong support for the ICC’s important role.

Despite its praise for the Security Council, Human Rights First did express regret that the Council’s decision to exclude non-Libyan nationals – for example, foreign mercenaries and contractors acting on behalf of the regime – from possible ICC prosecution. It noted that that in any case, the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute human rights violators rests with countries where the violations occur, or with countries of which the violators are nationals. In this respect, Human Rights First calls on all countries to investigate and hold accountable their citizens implicated in human rights violations in Libya.

Separately, Human Rights First praised the UN Human Rights Council’s passage of a February 25 resolution to urgently dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged violations of international human rights law in the Libya, to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated, and where possible, identify those responsible.

“It is gratifying to see that the lessons of past human rights crises, such as Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, are being learned and that United Nations institutions are moving to fulfill their obligation to protect human rights and hold accountable those who violate international law,” Rona concluded.

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