Human-rights groups urge Rice to convene Security Council on Libya

Human-rights groups urge Rice to convene Security Council on Libya

The Hill
By Bridget Johnson
February 21, 2011

Dozens of human rights groups called upon Washington and the European Union to move to eject Libya from the U.N. Human Rights Council and to convene the U.N. Security Council to address Libya’s “crimes against humanity.”

Signatories to the letter, sent to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as well as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, include UN Watch, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Physicians for Human Rights.

“The muted response of the US and the EU to the Libyan atrocities is not only a let-down to the many Libyans risking their lives for freedom, but a shirking of their obligations, as members of the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, to protect peace and human rights, and to prevent war crimes,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch and an international lawyer who represents Libyan torture victims.

The letter calls upon the parties to exercise their “clear and unambiguous responsibility to protect.”

“Because the Libyan national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their population from crimes against humanity, should peaceful means be inadequate, member states are obliged to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII,” the groups state.

They detail reports of snipers, artillery, helicopter gunships, hammers and swords being used against peaceful demonstrators, as well as tanks crushing protesters and women and children dying by jumping into a Benghazi river in an effort to escape the onslaught.

The NGOs urge the United Nations to immediately dispatch a fact-finding team to the area and said calls for Libya to exercise “restraint” are “entirely inappropriate.”

“It’s time for basic human rights to come before oil,” said Neuer.

UN Watch