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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.