[JURIST] The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website] failed to investigate the Libyan civilians killed by air strikes which assisted in the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF; press release] Monday. According to AI’s report, entitled, “Libya: The forgotten victims of NATO Strikes,” numerous civilians were either injured or killed in the strikes, and NATO has failed to conduct investigations or contact survivors. AI called on NATO to investigate the strikes and provide reparations for those injured and the families of victims. AI seeks a determination as to whether the deaths of Libyan civilians were a result of violations of international law and, if so, claims the perpetrators should be brought to justice. AI reported:
The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols of 1977 are among the principal IHL [International Humanitarian Law] instruments. Many of the specific rules included in these treaties form part of customary IHL and are thus binding on all parties to any type of armed conflict, including on armed groups. Violations of many of these rules can constitute war crimes. All of the principles and rules cited in this briefing are part of customary international law and are binding on all parties to an armed conflict.
According to the report, many of the civilian casualties were the result of strikes on private homes and no evidence demonstrated that these houses were used for military purposes.
Allegations of war crimes and human rights violations have been widespread during the Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder]. Last month AI released a report [JURIST report] accusing the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) [official website] in Libya of allowing the abuse and torture of supporters of former leader Gaddafi 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.