News / Africa

US, Human Rights Groups Urge No Retribution in Libya

Rebel fighters gesture and flash the V-sign in the Gorgi district of Tripoli, Libya, August 23, 2011
Rebel fighters gesture and flash the V-sign in the Gorgi district of Tripoli, Libya, August 23, 2011

The United States on Monday joined major human rights groups in urging Libyan rebel forces to refrain from revenge attacks on Moammar Gadhafi's supporters. The issue was discussed in a just-completed mission to Benghazi by the State Department’s chief Middle East diplomat.  

Officials here are concerned that the jubilation in Tripoli might give way to revenge attacks on actual or perceived Gadhafi supporters, and they are urging the rebel movement to follow through on pledges to protect the rights of all those under their control.

Potential retribution was among the issues discussed by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman on a visit to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi that ended on Sunday. Feltman said the “first step” in any post-Gadhafi era in Libya is to prevent a cycle of retribution.

State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said U.S. officials are encouraged by new assurances on the subject from Transitional National Council, or TNC, chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

“He called for reconciliation. He called for a unitary Libya. So these are issues that the TNC has been very focused on," said Nuland. "We’ve also been cautiously optimistic over the situation that we’ve seen in the liberated parts of Tripoli so far. But this is certainly something that we are watching, that the TNC is working hard on because we do not want to see any more civilian life lost in Libya.”

Nuland said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his sons and other members of the regime with “blood on their hands” must face justice, and that the process of seeking accountability for crimes they might have committed needs to be “Libyan-led.”

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued public appeals on Monday to the rebels and Gadhafi’s dwindling cadre of supporters to protect the rights of civilians as the conflict nears an end.

Amnesty International said these are “momentous, but extremely dangerous” days for the people of Libya, and that all forces must respect the right of civilians and ensure that the Tripoli fighting does not result in reprisals.

Omar al-Issawi, Middle East and North Africa Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch, said it is a time for “cool heads, calm and respect for international human rights standards” in Libya. He said that among the many internally-displaced persons in Libya, those with dark complexions are at particular risk amid charges that the Gadhafi government used sub-Saharan Africans as mercenaries.

“Since the beginning of the conflict, there were accusations that Colonel Gadhafi was using African mercenaries to fight some of his battles for him. Therefore, we are concerned that there will be retribution or revenge meted out to people of dark skin on the simple suspicion that they are African mercenaries," said al-Issawi. "Now, whether they are dark-skinned Libyans or Africans living and working in Libya, we expect them to be afforded the full protection of Libyan law.”

Human Rights Watch said captured Libyan government figures should be treated humanely and that those facing charges from the International Criminal Court should be handed over for trial.

In late June, the ICC issued warrants for Moammar Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi on charges of crimes against humanity for their roles in attacks on demonstrators in several Libyan cities since February.

Nuland said the United States is not aware of Gadhafi’s whereabouts. But she said that if he is alive, the best thing he can do for Libya is to, in her words, “step down and end this.”

When asked whether the Libyan leader has been reaching out for some kind of deal, Nuland said the United States has not heard from him directly, but that it has received many feelers from people claiming to represent Gadhafi, including “more-desperate” inquiries in the last two days.

She said none of them were considered serious because none met the basic standard of the international community, which starts with Gadhafi’s willingness to yield power.

You May Like

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversaryi
X
May 05, 2015 2:11 AM
Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs