Tag Archives: United Nations Human Rights Council

U.N. assembly suspends Libya from human rights body

By Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip | Reuters

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously suspended Libya‘s membership in the U.N. Human Rights Council because of violence by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi against protesters.

The resolution was adopted by consensus in the 192-nation General Assembly on the basis of a recommendation from the 47-member Geneva-based council, the principal U.N. rights forum. That body accused Libyan authorities last Friday of “gross and systematic violations of human rights.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the suspension, the council’s decision to set up an investigation into human rights abuses in Libya, and the U.N. Security Council‘s referral of Libya to the International Criminal Court.

“These actions send a strong and important message — a message of great consequence within the region and beyond — that there is no impunity, that those who commit crimes against humanity will be punished, that fundamental principles of justice and accountability shall prevail,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice echoed Ban, saying the General Assembly “made it clear that governments that turn their guns on their own people have no place on the Human Rights Council.”

Venezuela’s U.N. Ambassador Jorge Valero sought to turn the spotlight on the United States, which he said was preparing to take advantage of the situation in the oil-producing North African nation to invade and siphon off its energy resources.

“We urge peace-loving nations in all regions of the world to put a stop to the invasion plans against Libya, which have been unashamedly announced by the Department of State of the United States and the Pentagon,” he said.

“Its purpose is clear — to appropriate the vast potential of natural and energy resources that are stored in the motherland of the Libyan people,” Valero said.

“DELUSIONAL”

Rice responded angrily, saying the “United States utterly rejects the willful and ugly distortion by the Venezuelan delegation of U.S. policy and posture.”

“At a time when this assembly is acting in unison in solidarity with the Libyan people, it’s shameful that one member state, whose own reprehensible record speaks for itself, would manipulate this occasion to spread lies,” she said.

Speaking to reporters later, Rice referred to her own remarks on Monday that Gaddafi is “delusional.”

“Apparently there’s more than one delusional person speaking aloud this week,” she said about Valero.

While not breaking the consensus, Cuba and Nicaragua, like Venezuela, disputed the move to suspend Libya.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant was asked by reporters if Britain would support a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone, an idea Washington has said is an option after it was raised by Libya’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, one of the first Libyan diplomats to denounce Gaddafi and defect.

“We are not ruling anything out at this stage,” he said. “The Security Council is keeping the issue under review.”

“There are consultations going on between the different members of the Security Council,” Lyall Grant said. “If we think that further measures are warranted, then the Security Council will look to adopt such measures.”

Lebanese Ambassador Nawaf Salam, introducing the resolution, called it an “exceptional and temporary procedure.”

Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said the General Assembly’s move “puts Gaddafi and his cronies on notice that they will be held to account for attacking their people and denying their rights.”

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/u-n-assembly-suspends-libya-human-rights-body-20110301-141602-477.html

 


U.S. warships move through Suez, Gaddafi defiant

By Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy | Reuters

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Two U.S. warships were passing through the Suez Canal on their way to waters off Libya on Wednesday as Western nations exerted diplomatic and military pressure onMuammar Gaddafi to step down.

The United States said Libya could sink into civil war unless the Libyan leader ends his four-decade rule amid fears that the uprising, the bloodiest yet against long-serving rulers in the Middle East, could cause a humanitarian crisis.

Gaddafi is defiant and his son, Saif al-Islam, has warned the West against launching military action. He said the veteran ruler would not relinquish power or be driven into exile.

Across Libya, tribal leaders, officials, military officers and army units have defected to the rebel cause and say they are becoming more organized. Tripoli is a stronghold for Gaddafi in this oil-producing north African state.

“We are going to keep the pressure on Gaddafi until he steps down and allows the people of Libya to express themselves freely and determine their own future,” Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Captain Faris Zwei, among officers in the east who joined the opposition to Gaddafi, said there were more than 10,000 volunteers in Ajdabiyah, 800 km (500 miles) from the capital.

“We are reorganizing the army, which was almost completely destroyed by Gaddafi and his gang before they left,” he said. “We are reforming, as much as we can, the army from the youth that took part in the revolution.”

Two amphibious assault ships, USS Kearsarge, which can carry 2,000 Marines, and USS Ponce, entered the canal on Wednesday en route to the Mediterranean. The destroyer USS Barry moved through the Suez Canal on Monday.

The ships entered through the southern end of the canal, an official said, adding that they were expected to pass through by 3:30 p.m. (1330 GMT) or 4:00 p.m. local time.

Arab League foreign ministers meet on Wednesday at an extraordinary session in Cairo and are expected to reinforce their condemnation of Gaddafi. Some delegates want the meeting to underline the League’s unwillingness to see foreign intervention in Libya.

The repositioning of U.S. ships and aircraft closer to Libya is widely seen as a symbolic show of force since neither the United States nor its NATO allies have shown any appetite for direct military intervention in the turmoil that has seen Gaddafi lose control of large swaths of his country.

“We are looking at a lot of options and contingencies. No decisions have been made on any other actions,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, noting the United Nations had not authorized the use of force in Libya.

Italy said it was sending a humanitarian mission to Tunisia to provide food and medical aid to as many as 10,000 people who had fled violence in Libya on its eastern border.

Tunisian border guards fired into the air on Tuesday to try to control a desperate crowd clamoring to cross the frontier.

About 70,000 people have passed through the Ras Jdir border post in the past two weeks, and many more of the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in Libya are expected to follow.

U.S. RULES NOTHING OUT

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Libya could become a peaceful democracy or it could face protracted civil war.”

The U.S. Senate, in a unanimous vote, approved a resolution “strongly condemning the gross and systematic violation of human rights in Libya, including violent attacks on protesters demanding democratic reforms.”

The White House said the ships were being redeployed in preparation for possible humanitarian efforts but stressed it “was not taking any options off the table.” Gates said: “Our job is to give the president the broadest possible decision space.”

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe sounded a note of caution, saying military intervention would not happen without a clear United Nations mandate.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said Britain would work with allies on preparations for a no-fly zone over Libya, said it was unacceptable that “Colonel Gaddafi can be murdering his own people using airplanes and helicopter gunships.”

General James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate hearing that imposing a no-fly zone would be a “challenging” operation. “You would have to remove air defense capability in order to establish a no-fly zone, so no illusions here,” he said. “It would be a military operation.”

Analysts said Western leaders were in no mood to rush into conflict after drawn-out involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The U.N. General Assembly unanimously suspended Libya’s membership of the U.N. Human Rights Council because of violence by Gaddafi’s forces.

Gaddafi, a survivor of past coup attempts, has told television networks: “All my people love me,” dismissing the significance of the rebellion that has ended his control over much of oil-rich eastern Libya.

REBELS SAY STRENGTH GROWING

The Libyan leader has, however, faced defections from soldiers, diplomats and ministers. Gaddafi replaced two of his ministers who had defected to support the uprising seeking to oust him, Libyan state television said on Wednesday.

Rebel fighters said the balance of the conflict was swinging their way. “Our strength is growing and we are getting more weapons. We are attacking checkpoints,” said Yousef Shagan, a spokesman in Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) from Tripoli.

The rebel army officer in the eastern city of Ajdabiyah said rebel units were becoming more organized. “All the military councils of Free Libya are meeting to form a unified military council to plan an attack on Gaddafi security units, militias and mercenaries,” Captain Zwei said.

Despite the widespread collapse of Gaddafi’s rule, his forces were fighting back in some regions. A reporter on the Tunisian border saw Libyan troops reassert control at a crossing abandoned on Monday, and residents of Nalut, about 60 km (35 miles) from the border, said they feared pro-Gaddafi forces were planning to recapture the town.

Mohamed, a resident of rebel-held Misrata, told Reuters by phone: “Symbols of Gaddafi’s regime have been swept away from the city. Only a (pro-Gaddafi) battalion remains at the city’s air base but they appear to be willing to negotiate safe exit out of the air base. We are not sure if this is genuine or just a trick to attack the city again.”

Many on the streets of Tripoli on Tuesday expressed loyalty, but a man who described himself as a military pilot said: “One hundred percent of Libyans don’t like him.”

The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously suspended Libya’s membership of the U.N. Human Rights Council. A U.N. Security Council resolution on Saturday called for a freeze on Gaddafi’s assets and a travel ban and refers his crackdown to the International Criminal Court.

The United States has frozen $30 billion in Libyan assets.

Libya’s National Oil Corp said output had halved due to the departure of foreign workers. Brent crude surged above $116 a barrel on Tuesday as supply disruptions and potential for more unrest in the Middle East and North Africa kept investors edgy.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/gaddafi-defiant-west-flexes-military-muscle-20110301-182841-267.html

 

 


Canada imposes sanctions against Libya, including arms embargo, asset freeze

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Canada has joined the United Nations and a number of Western countries in slapping sanctions against Libya following the deadly crackdown on protesters by the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the sanctions on Sunday, while calling on Gadhafi to step down.

“It is clear that the only acceptable course of action for him is to halt the bloodshed and to immediately vacate his position and his authority,” Harper said in a televised statement.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose an arms embargo on Libya and urged UN member countries to freeze the assets of Gadhafi, four of his sons and a daughter.

The council also backed a travel ban on the Gadhafi family and close associates, including leaders of the revolutionary committees accused of much of the violence against regime opponents.

Harper said Canada will go beyond the UN resolution.

“Our government will impose an asset freeze on, and a prohibition of financial transactions with the government of Libya, its institutions and agencies, including the Libyan Central Bank.

“These actions will help restrict the movement of, and access to money and weapons for those responsible for the violence against the Libyan people.”

The 192-member UN General Assembly is meeting Tuesday to vote on a UN Human Rights Council recommendation to suspend Libya from the world organization’s top human rights body.

Harper said Gadhafi has betrayed his own people.

“A government’s first and most fundamental responsibility is to protect the safety and security of its citizens. Mr. Gadhafi has bluntly violated this most basic trust. Far from protecting the Libyan people against peril, he is the root cause of the dangers they face.”

The prime minister also announced that a second C-17 aircraft has arrived in Malta, ready to help evacuate Canadians still stranded in Libya. Two C-130 Hercules aircraft will also being deployed to the region to provide additional and flexible capacity, Harper said.

“The Canadian Armed Forces in co-ordination with our allies will deploy these aircraft as circumstances permit.”

About 100 Canadians are believed to still be in Libya, most of them oil workers.

Efforts continued all weekend to contact those Canadians, Harper said.

”The emergency operation centre of the department of foreign affairs is continuing to contact registered Canadians by phone, where possible, regarding opportunities to leave the country by any possible means.”

A Canadian Forces C-17 aircraft evacuated 46 people including its diplomatic staff from Libya on Saturday.

The Conservative government has faced criticism that it has not responded quickly enough to the needs of stranded Canadians.

Other countries engaged their military to evacuate their citizens from multiple locations in Libya, including the eastern desert, where many of the oil rigs are located.

The British military, including members of its special forces, used a Hercules to fly under the Libyan radar and rescue 150 Britons and foreign nationals in a desert area on Sunday. The British government said one of the RAF Hercules aircraft appeared to have suffered minor damage from small arms fire.

Two German military planes evacuated 132 people also from the desert during a secret military mission on Saturday, landing on a private runway belonging to the Wintershall AG company.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/hercules-aircraft-could-used-help-canadians-libya-20110227-131753-448.html