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Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Libya
June 9, 2011

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

Human Rights Council 17th Session

Geneva, June 9, 2011


Thank you, Mr. President.

I would like to thank the members of the Commission of Inquiry and Cherif Bassiouni as its Chairperson for an outstanding report completed under very difficult conditions and within severe time constraints.

The report paints a stark picture of a ruthless government willing to use the most extreme tactics to remain in power, to punish peaceful protest and to frustrate the demands of its people for a government that would respect its human rights and allow the political and economic change the people of Libya deserve. It documents evidence of the serious crimes committed in large part by the Qaddafi government, including the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, torture and continued targeted attacks against civilians, mosques, hospitals, and humanitarian ships.

In addition to chronicling a long list of human rights violations, the report is notable for accurately characterizing the nature of the Qaddafi government and the evolution of this uprising.

The report accurately describes the system of government instituted by Qaddafi: one-man rule built on fear, intimidation and incentives based on loyalty. It is a government where fundamental rights such as freedom of association and freedom of expression have long been criminalized and subject to penalties, including the death penalty. It is a government that ignores the rule of law and lacks an independent judiciary, and where the prevalent use of a number of paramilitary and security apparatuses, have created a climate of fear and oppression.

This is a government that, by its actions and methods, has created the current situation. According the report, Qaddafi has used his military forces to commit crimes against his people as part of an orchestrated widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population. Abuses attributed to the Qaddafi government in the COI report are not random violations that spring from the chaos of fighting, but the result of a pre-meditated and continuing strategy. The report notes the lack of apparent action by the Government to address the human rights violations that to date have been brought to light. A small number of detained journalists have been released but the commission has not received information about the many people unaccounted for – some of whom we know are being held in Libyan custody without formal charges. Nor has the Commission been provided information to confirm that credible investigations are being conducted into the violations documented in its report.

The report also catalogues crimes alleged to have been committed by opposition forces. We expect the Transitional National Council to uphold the high standards they have set for themselves and their pledge to investigate and punish all abuses. We are encouraged by the TNC’s adoption of human rights principles in its roadmap for Libya and its statements noting its intent to respect the Geneva Conventions, human rights and its repudiation of terrorism. Already, they have begun taking important steps to demonstrate their commitment to human rights, such as allowing international monitors.

We have a very similar picture of the events on the ground in Libya as described in the report. There is no ambiguity in the report’s conclusions that the most troubling human rights violations and crimes have been committed primarily by the Qaddafi Government through the different military, paramilitary, security and popular forces that have been employed in pursuit of a systematic and widespread policy of repression against opponents of his leadership.

The United States welcomes the recommendations of the commission and calls on both parties to take immediate action in response. We share the Commission’s concerns about continuing violations and the need for further work and investigation. We support an extension of the mandate and believe that the Commission should continue its work as long as there is evidence of ongoing human rights violations in Libya. We call on the Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights to provide the resources necessary for the Commission to continue its work.

Thank you, Mr. President.