Libya: Organization Calls for Immediate Arms Embargo and Assets Freeze

Press Release
February 23, 2011

Libya: Organization Calls for Immediate Arms Embargo and Assets Freeze

Amnesty International Statement
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Amnesty International Accuses  U.N. Security Council and  African Union of Failing the People of Libya with ‘Half-Hearted’ Response as Violence Flares and Colonel al-Gaddafi Vows to “Cleanse House”

Organization Calls for Immediate Arms Embargo and Assets Freeze

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

(London) -- Amnesty International today accused the international community of failing the people of Libya in their hour of greatest need as violence spirals and Colonel al-Gaddafi threatens to “cleanse Libya house by house”.

The organization said the response to the Libya crisis by  the U.N. Security Council fell shamefully below what was needed to stop the spiralling violence , and called for concrete action, including an immediate arms embargo and assets freeze.

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday issued a statement calling for an end to the violence and urging Libya to act with restraint and respect human rights, but took no substantive measures.

Amnesty International  also criticized the African Union, which has not convened its Peace and Security Council to address the human rights crisis in Libya.

“Colonel al-Gaddafi has publicly made clear his readiness to kill those who oppose him in order to stay in power,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.

“This is unacceptable. Colonel al-Gaddafi and all those reporting to him need to know that they will be held personally accountable under international law for the crimes they commit.”

“His threats make the half-hearted response from the international community even more shocking. What Libyans need now is not mere words of concern but immediate, concrete action.”

Amnesty International said that as a bare minimum the Security Council must impose an immediate arms embargo against Libya and an asset freeze against al-Gaddafi and his key security and military advisers.

The call came as Colonel al-Gaddafi gave a speech in which he called protesters “cockroaches” and “rats,” and compared the situation to China, saying that national unity had been “more important than the people of Tiananmen Square."

Amnesty International also criticized the response of the African Union to the unfolding crisis, which has seen hundreds killed and persistent reports of mercenaries being brought in from African countries by the Libyan leader to violently suppress the protests against him.

“It is outrageous that the African Union Peace and Security Council has not even met to discuss the emergency taking place in one of its own member states,” said Salil Shetty.

Amnesty International called on the African Union to ensure that its member states, particularly those bordering Libya, are not complicit in human rights abuses in Libya.

The organization also urged the Arab League, which yesterday banned Libya from participation in its meetings, to act at once on its public commitments, in particular by launching an independent Arab investigative committee into the crisis in Libya.

In full, Amnesty International called on:

·    The United Nations Security Council: to immediately impose an arms embargo on Libya preventing transfer of equipment and personnel, implement an asset freeze against Colonel al-Gaddafi and his senior military and security advisers and state unequivocally that crimes under international law in Libya will be investigated and punished.

·    The African Union and its member states: to immediately investigate reports that armed elements are being transported from African countries to Libya, acting to secure the land borders into Libya and monitor suspicious flights.

·    The U.N. General Assembly: to immediately suspend Libya from the 47-member UN Human Rights Council.

·    The UN Human Rights Council: to deploy a fact-finding mission to Libya to make rapid recommendations on human rights abuses and whether a referral to the International Criminal Court is warranted.

·    Libya and neighboring countries: to facilitate the safe departure of those who wish to leave Libya.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.