Libya: Attacks on Misratah point to war crimes - New report
Posted: 06 May 2011
Attacks by forces loyal to Colonel al-Gaddafi on civilian and residential areas of Misratah may amount to war crimes, Amnesty International said today (6 May) in a new report on the bleak situation in the besieged city.
Amnesty’s 41-page report, “Misratah: Under Siege and Under Fire”, based on in-depth research in Misratah between 14-20 April as well information from injured Misratah residents and their families evacuated to Tunisia for treatment, accuses al-Gaddafi forces of unlawful killing of civilians due to indiscriminate attacks, including use of heavy artillery, rockets and cluster bombs in civilian areas and sniper fire against residents.
It also documents systematic shooting at peaceful protesters and enforced disappearance of perceived opponents, which can amount to crimes against humanity. Amnesty called on the Tripoli authorities to put an immediate end to indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks against civilians or civilian objects.
Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior adviser currently in Libya, said:
"The scale of the relentless attacks that we have seen by al-Gaddafi forces to intimidate the residents of Misratah for more than two months is truly horrifying.
"It shows a total disregard for the lives of ordinary people and is in clear breach of international humanitarian law.
"The people of Misratah have had nowhere to turn for safety or support in recent months.
"The international community must give all possible support - financial, legal and practical - to those bodies trying to bring to justice those responsible for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Misratah and elsewhere in Libya."
Since Misratah declared its allegiance to opposition forces in February, al-Gaddafi's forces have used their positions around the city and in the centre to launch relentless indiscriminate attacks into the city’s residential neighbourhoods.
Scores of residents not involved in armed confrontations have been killed and hundreds injured, many by indiscriminate 122mm Grad rockets fired from up to tens of miles away, and by mortars and 155mm artillery shells. Rockets, mortars and artillery shells are designed for use against massed infantry or armour. Under international humanitarian law, none of these weapons should ever be used in populated residential areas.
Amnesty’s report details specific incidents and concerns, including:
Amnesty is calling on the international community to support the international investigations into human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in Libya, in particular the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Commission of Inquiry established by the UN Human Rights Council.
On 4 May, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the UN Security Council that he will ask ICC judges to issue arrest warrants against three individuals for crimes against humanity committed in Libya.
Read the full report: "Misratah - Under siege and under fire" (pdf)