Security Council and Arab League Must Act on Libyan Crimes Today

February 22, 2011

Update, February 23:

  • Call on US government officials to play a leadership role at the United Nations to ensure that it imposes a total arms embargo on Libya and sends a mission there immediately to investigate the violence.
  • Read a coalition letter that urges the UN Human Rights Council to act. The letter is sent to Foreign Ministries around the world (pdf)

The UN Security Council and the Arab League have to launch an immediate mission to Libya to investigate events that have left hundreds of protesters dead, Amnesty International said in a press release today. Over the last few days, hundreds of protesters have reportedly been killed in Libya. According to several accounts, demonstrators were also attacked by helicopter gunships.

The call for the investigation, which could lead to prosecutions at the International Criminal Court (ICC), comes as both the UN Security Council and the Arab League meet today for special sessions to discuss the spiraling violence in the country.

The UN Security Council should also impose a total arms embargo on Libya, amidst reports that security forces are continuing to deploy a range of weaponry, munitions and related equipment to use lethal force against protesters.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General, made the following statement:

Colonel al-Gaddafi and his government appear to be prepared to kill as many people as it takes to stay in power. The international community needs to act now to put a stop to this. The international community must immediately make it clear to all those in the Libyan government, military and security apparatus that they and those carrying out their orders will be held to account for crimes under international law, such as those now being reported. The Security Council must also put an immediate end to the export or transfer of all arms and military equipment to Libya. People are being killed in their hundreds with intent. Other states must not be complicit in further killing. All military and police supplies and cooperation with Libya must stop now until the risk of such serious human rights violations is ended.

The UN and Arab League should send representatives to Libya immediately, either jointly or separately, to investigate the situation on the ground and report rapidly to the Security Council.

The recommendations should include a judgement as to whether the scale of the crimes being committed in Libya warrants a Security Council referral to the Prosecutor of the ICC.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay yesterday said that the Libyan authorities’ actions against protesters may amount to crimes against humanity.