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Rights group claims executions by Gaddafi forces constitute war crimes

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Monday pointed to the executions of opposition fighters as the most recent evidence that forces supporting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] continue to commit war crimes. Researchers from AI were shown the bodies of two individuals whose hands and feet had been bound, suggesting their deaths were the result of deliberate killings [press release] carried out by forces loyal to Gaddafi. In addition to viewing these deceased individuals at the morgue, the researchers saw another body, similarly bound, at a hospital in the region and have received four reports of other such cases. Responding to the researchers' report, Malcolm Smart, AI's director for Middle East and North Africa, stated, "[t]he deliberate killing of captured fighters is a war crime. All those responsible for such crimes—those who ordered or sanctioned them as well as those who carried them out—must be left in no doubt that they will be held fully accountable."

The actions of Gaddafi's forces in Libya have been condemned by a number of human rights as well as governmental organizations. Just this week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] asserted that indiscriminate government attacks on Libyan civilians violate international humanitarian law [JURIST report]. The attacks, led by forces supporting Gaddafi, have claimed more than 250 civilian lives within the last month in the city of Misrata. According to international law, attacks from either party in conflict that do not differentiate between civilians and combatants are impermissible. Furthermore, the law requires that any force applied must take all measures to reduce the harm to civilians. Although the Libyan government denies using indiscriminate force on citizens, many civilians have reported abuse including shootings in medical facilities and populated areas where there is no threat of of war. Earlier this month, the UN announced that investigators would enter Libya [JURIST report] to begin looking into alleged human rights abuses by both rebels and the armed forces of Gaddafi. The inquiry into the conditions in Libya was approved by a unanimous vote [JURIST report] of members of the UN Human Rights Council on February 25. The investigatory panel will cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], which last month opened its own investigation [JURIST report] into alleged abuses in Libya.

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