For Immediate Release: March 2, 2011
Washington, DC – Yesterday, the UN General Assembly voted by consensus to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council. Human Rights First has called for Libya’s expulsion from the HRC and praised this precedent-setting action – the first time a State was suspended from membership in the Council, or its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission – as a positive step.
“The vote to suspend Libya from the HRC not only sends a clear message from the international community to Libya’s leaders and other human rights violators that they will be isolated, but it also enhances the credibility of the Human Rights Council as a forum for global advancement of the human rights agenda,” stated Human Rights First’s Gabor Rona.
Separate from the HRC’s historic actions, the UN Security Council has decided to refer the Libyan situation to the International Criminal Court for investigation of crimes against humanity stemming from such attacks. Wasting no time, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced today that he is opening a formal investigation. Human Rights First calls on all parties with relevant information, including the African Union, the Arab League, other States, Interpol and other law enforcement agencies, and private individuals to assist in the investigation.
Human Rights First also notes that there are continuing reports of aerial bombings against Libyan civilians who oppose the regime. The group supports the establishment of a Security Council-mandated no-fly zone to prevent further attacks against civilians.
Rona notes, “Representatives of permanent Security Council members Russia and China have expressed reservations about a no-fly zone. The accord of both countries is necessary to enable the Security Council to act. We urge Russia and China to reconsider their position. We commend Russia and China for having concluded that the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in Libya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity and for agreeing to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. We believe the establishment of a no-fly zone is a reasonable and necessary measure to put a stop to gross human rights violations that the Security Council has already recognized merit criminal investigation.”