The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website] should acknowledge civilian casualties from air strikes in Libya and investigate possible unlawful attacks [press release], Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Monday. In a 76-page report [text, PDF], "Unacknowledged Deaths: Civilian Casualties in NATO's Air Campaign in Libya," HRW examined eight NATO air strikes which resulted in 72 civilian deaths, claiming that "the absence of a clear military target at seven of the eight sites Human Rights Watch visited raises concerns of possible laws-of-war violations that should be investigated." HRW urged NATO to:
Conduct transparent and impartial investigations into credible allegations of laws-of-war violations during NATO's air war in Libya [and] Make public the findings and include recommendations for disciplinary measures or criminal prosecutions where violations are found.HRW also urged cooperation from Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) [official website, in Arabic].
Allegations of war crimes and human rights violations resulting from the Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder] have been widespread. In March Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] issued a similar report claiming that NATO failed to investigate [JURIST report] the Libyan civilians killed by air strikes which assisted in the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. In February AI released a report accusing the NTC of allowing the abuse and torture [JURIST report] of Gaddafi supporters by unofficial militias. In January AI reported the recent deaths of several Libyan detainees who were apparently tortured while in custody [JURIST report]. The deaths came amid allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of detainees accused of being pro-Gaddafi loyalists and fighters during the Libyan conflict last year. In October of last year AI alleged that Libyan forces arrested nearly 2,500 people who face ongoing torture and detainment [JURIST report] without formal charges. In September the NTC vowed to investigate allegations of human rights abuses after AI published a report [JURIST report] alleging that both sides of the Libya conflict are responsible for human rights abuses and warning the NTC to act quickly to investigate these allegations.