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 On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid