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UN rights chief condemns use of violence against protesters in Tripoli

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] on Tuesday reported concern regarding recent violent incidents in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, which have left in excess of 40 people dead and hundreds injured. The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSIL) [official website] visited hospitals in the area to confirm the number of deceased individuals that has been reported and stated that the number is expected to rise [UN News Centre report]. The majority of these deaths occurred on November 15, when armed forces began to shoot at protestors, who were peacefully gathered in order to show their disdain for the military presence in Tripoli from Misrata. In response to reports that individuals had been imprisoned after the protests, the OHCHR requested that government authorities release these civilians immediately or transfer them to the judiciary. Ravina Shamsadani, spokesperson for the OHCHR stated, "We urge all sides to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and engage in peaceful dialogue." Shamsadani also stated that the recent events are the bloodiest Tripoli has seen since the end of 2011. The OHCHR called upon the Libyan government to begin an impartial investigation into the killings and to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths and human rights violations.

During the period of time now referred to as "the Arab Spring," Libya and other countries across the Middle East erupted in protests from citizens demanding an end to oppressive regimes and the beginning of true democracies in their nations. Earlier in November, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] urged [JURIST report] the government of Libya to address serious crimes committed in the country and encouraged the international community to end the impunity gap in Libya. Libya has remained in conflict with the ICC over the trial of Muammar Gaddafi's son and the efficacy and fairness of trying him in a Libyan court. In October Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] Libya for ongoing lawlessness and impunity for the militias responsible for the systematic executions of Muammar Gaddafi [JURIST backgrounder] and his supporters.

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