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War Crimes

    March 18, 2011

    Amnesty International has today urged all parties to make the protection of civilians in Libya their top priority, after the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 paved the way for possible military action by international forces.

    "While we welcome the strong emphasis on the protection of civilians in Libya reflected in UN Security Council resolution 1973, we call on all parties to the conflict, including any external forces acting under the authority of the UN Security Council, to put the protection of civilians above any other considerations," said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.

    "It is critical that all Libyan and any other forces that may become involved in the conflict respect fully the laws of war."

    The organization also called on all parties to ensure that any civilians who want to flee the country be allowed safe passage to the borders in safety, and to ensure that anyone fleeing Libya is allowed immediate access to whichever country they are able to reach, without discrimination.

    Yesterday the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 with 10 votes in favour and five abstentions.

    March 15, 2011

    Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty has urged the UN to support human rights in the Middle East and North Africa, as protests calling for reform continued to erupt.

    In a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in New York yesterday, Shetty urged the UN to do more to help combat human rights violations in Libya, and to push for human rights to be put at the centre of political reform in Egypt and Tunisia.

    The UN Secretary-General is visiting Egypt and Tunisia later this week, and his Special Envoy Abdul Ilah Khatib has arrived in Libya.

    In their meeting Shetty asked Ban to make it clear to the Libyan authorities, and to Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi in particular, that further violations of human rights will not be tolerated.
    “Now more than ever, we need the United Nations to help put human rights at the heart of reform in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Salil Shetty.

    March 02, 2011

    Amnesty International has warned of a growing humanitarian crisis as thousands of migrants flee Libya during continuing unrest.

    The UNHCR warned on Tuesday that Tunisia would need help to deal with up to 75,000 people who had fled Libya since February 20. It said many thousands remained stuck at the border between the two countries in freezing conditions.

    The UN refugee agency said 69,000 people had also crossed into Egypt from Libya since 19 February.

    “All Libya’s neighbouring states must keep their borders open and provide assistance to all those fleeing violence. They are obliged to do this under international law,” said Michael Bochenek, Amnesty International's Director of Law and Policy.

    “The international community must also do all it can to offer urgent support and assistance to the Tunisian authorities and other states accepting those fleeing the violence, and help migrants return safely to their home countries as quickly as possible if they desire,”

    March 01, 2011

    Amnesty International has today called for immediate independent investigations as it released a report detailing unlawful killings and acts of brutality by Tunisian security forces during the protests in December and January that led to the departure of former President Ben Ali.

    The 46-page report Tunisia in Revolt: State Violence during Anti Government Protests reveals that security forces shot bystanders and fleeing protesters and fired live ammunition at protesters who did not pose a threat to their lives, nor that of others.

    “The security forces acted with reckless disregard for human life in all too many cases,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.  

    “The new government must ensure that killings and serious allegations of abuse by the security forces are fully and independently investigated without delay, and that those responsible are held to account.”

    “This is an essential first step in turning the page on the long years of abuses under the former president,” said Malcolm Smart.

    March 01, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged authorities in Côte d'Ivoire to protect the population as tens of thousands of people were forced to flee heavy gunfire amid intensified fighting across the country.

    Clashes between armed commandos and members of the security forces loyal to outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo have persisted for several days in the city of Abidjan, leaving many dead.

    “The humanitarian crisis in Côte d'Ivoire is being exacerbated by the tens of thousands of people fleeing Abidjan who need immediate protection and assistance,” said Véronique Aubert, Amnesty International’s Africa deputy director.

    "Many of those displaced by the fighting, including women and children, are having difficulty finding shelter and some are sleeping in the open air.”

    Much of the fighting in Abidjan has been between security forces and an armed group calling themselves the "Invisible Commandos", who claim to be fighting independently.

    Residents living in the Abobo neighbourhood of the city told Amnesty International that the clashes have left them without water or electricity.

    February 28, 2011

    Campaigners today called on governments meeting at the United Nations to ensure no weapons or munitions are sold to human rights abusers. The call came as delegates meet this week to resume negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a legally-binding treaty to regulate the global arms trade.

    “The killings and injuring of peaceful demonstrators in the Middle East and North Africa show the urgent need for stringent controls on a wide range of arms that are likely to harm innocent citizens. Governments of arms producing countries need to understand that people will no longer accept the free-for-all in selling their weapons to leaders who have no shame in using them against their own citizens,” said Salah Abdellaoui of Amnesty International.
    Top of the agenda will be discussions around the criteria against which transfers of arms should either be authorized or denied. Campaigners stress that if there is a substantial risk that weapons, munitions or related equipment will be used for serious human rights violations, the sale of arms should not be authorized.

    February 27, 2011

    Saturday's Security Council referral of Libya to the International Criminal Court marks a historic moment in accountability for crimes under international law, Amnesty International said today.

    The Security Council's vote came after a plea for action from Libya's own UN delegation, which had announced that it no longer represented Col al-Gaddafi.

    "This is a welcome and historic precedent," said Steve Crawshaw, director of international advocacy at Amnesty International. "Libyan leaders and all others who may commit crimes under international law must now take heed that they will be called to account."

    "For the people of Libya, this decision is a signal that the international community will not avert its eyes from the human rights abuses that they continue to suffer."

    Amnesty International urged the UN Human Rights Council, the Arab League and the African Union, all of which have announced investigative missions to Libya, to urgently proceed with their missions and to hand over their findings to the ICC prosecutor as soon as possible.

    The organization also called on the Security Council to consider similar action elsewhere.

    February 25, 2011

    Amnesty International has today called on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court and impose an immediate arms embargo, ahead of a planned session in New York on 25 February.

    "Colonel al-Gaddafi and his chain of command have to understand they will answer for their actions," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary-General. "They need to see that investigation and prosecution are a reality they will face."

    "This should act as a wake-up call to those issuing the orders and those who carry them out: your crimes will not go unpunished."

    "Members of the Security Council must act now to stop the outrageous abuses taking place on the streets of Tripoli and elsewhere in Libya."

    The organization repeated its call of 23 February to the Security Council to immediately impose an arms embargo on Libya preventing transfer of equipment and personnel, and to implement an asset freeze against Colonel al-Gaddafi, those associated with him, and anyone else involved in human rights abuses.

    February 22, 2011

    Amnesty International has today called on the UN Security Council and the Arab League to launch an immediate mission to Libya to investigate events that have left hundreds of protesters dead.

    The call for the investigation, which could lead to prosecutions at the International Criminal Court (ICC), comes as both the UN Security Council and the Arab League meet today for special sessions to discuss the spiralling violence in the country.

    The organization also called on the UN Security Council to impose a total arms embargo on Libya, amidst reports that security forces are continuing to deploy a range of weaponry, munitions and related equipment to use lethal force against protesters.

    “Colonel al-Gaddafi and his government appear to be prepared to kill as many people as it takes to stay in power. The international community needs to act now to put a stop to this.” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.

    January 21, 2011

    Amnesty International is again urging the Croatian authorities to investigate war crimes committed during the 1991-1995 war following a key European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that could allow thousands of victims seek justice internationally. The ECHR yesterday found that the Croatian authorities were responsible for the lack of adequate investigations into the disappearance and deaths of two war crimes victims in 1991, despite the country only becoming part of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1997.

    “This judgement creates a significant precedent, allowing victims of war crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia to seek justice before the ECHR if states do not carry out adequate investigations into those crimes.” said Marek Marczynski, Amnesty International’s expert on Croatia.

    The ruling centred around two cases, including that of a woman whose husband was shot by the Yugoslav army in 1991 in Vukovar.

    Despite some evidence being gathered by the authorities, no meaningful progress was made in the investigation and 2010 proceedings were terminated under an Amnesty law.

    A child is digging in the rubble of the destroyed al-Dalu family house in Gaza City © Amnesty International

    The following is a firsthand account by Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser, reporting from Gaza. The ceasefire came into effect at 9pm on November 21 November.

    The children are playing outside again, despite the torrential rain. They were stuck indoors during eight days of relentless Israeli bombardments.

    By the time that ended in excess of 160 people were dead - including more than 30 children and scores of other unarmed civilians.

    For the duration of the onslaught they were stuck indoors - at home, seeking refuge with relatives or in schools which the UN refugee agency turned into temporary shelters for thousands of families forced from their houses by the bombings.


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