[JURIST] Libyan troops used children as human shields to deter attacks by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website], Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Tuesday. A team of PHR investigators conducted several weeks of interviews in Libya, shortly after Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his loyalists were expelled from Misrata [Bloomberg report]. The report also reflects troops’ pattern of torturing, forcibly disappearing, hostage-taking, detaining, beating and slaying Libyan civilians. PHR made several recommendations for Libya’s future:
It is critical that civilian authorities led by the TNC [Transitional National Council] assert full control over Libya and establish the rule of law to prevent further bloodshed, vigilante justice, looting, and violence. The international community must assist the newly emerging civilian authorities in providing basic services to the Libyan people as Libya develops a constitutional framework and mechanisms and builds civil society and institutions. … This effort must also examine reports of human rights violations committed by rebel forces and NATO. In the current absence of developed legal institutions, it is crucial that Libyan transitional authorities fully collaborate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has already issued arrest warrants for [Gaddafi] and others. … Prosecutions, vetting, and other necessary methods of accountability will guide the Libyan people as they choose how best to forge a secure and just social and political order in the aftermath of conflict.
PHR specifically stated that the report does not “present evidence that either confirms or denies whether rebel and NATO forces may have committed war crimes.” An investigation into NATO’s alleged human rights abuses [JURIST report] is pending.
Gaddafi continues to disregard arrest warrants [JURIST report] issued in May by Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official website] of the International Criminal Court [official website]. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official webisite] released a report in June that revealed estimates showing 10,000-15,000 people have been killed since protests began in February [JURIST reports]. In April, Ocampo’s office uncovered evidence [JURIST report] that Gaddafi planned to attack civilians to forestall regime-toppling revolution. Ocampo indicated that the plans were made in response to the conflicts in Tunisia and Egypt and included shooting civilians. In March, Ocampo told the press that he was 100 percent certain his office would bring charges [JURIST report] against Gaddafi. Also in March, the ICC launched a probe into allegations of crimes against humanity [JURIST report] by the Libyan government.