Libya: UN rights office condemns use of violence against peaceful protestors

19 November 2013

The United Nations human rights office today expressed deep concern about violent incidents in the Libyan capital of Tripoli which have left more than 40 people dead and hundreds others injured, and urged authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

“These are the bloodiest incidents Tripoli has seen since the end of the 2011 conflict,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.

Almost all the deaths occurred on 15 November, OHCHR noted, following armed clashes triggered by shootings at peaceful demonstrators protesting the presence in Tripoli armed brigades from Misrata.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), visiting hospitals, was able to confirm with medical staff that 40 people were killed, OHCHR said, adding that “numbers were expected to rise.”

OHCHR also called on Libyan authorities to launch a “prompt, impartial and independent” investigation into the violent incidents and to ensure that those found responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses are brought to justice.

“We urge all sides to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and engage in peaceful dialogue,” Ms. Shamdasani said, echoing UNSMIL’s calls this weekend for calm.

OHCHR also called on the Government to renew efforts in meeting its obligations under international human rights law, specifically with respect to protecting the right to life and the right of all Libyans to protest peacefully and express their views freely.

Turning to reports that several people had been taken prisoner by the armed brigades during the clashes, OHCHR reiterated that detainees must be released without delay or transferred to the judiciary for criminal investigation.

“They must be treated humanely, with dignity, and afforded all judicial guarantees under international law,” it stressed.

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The United Nations mission in Libya strongly condemned the violence which took place in the capital, Tripoli, on Friday that led to the loss of civilian lives and called for maximum restraint and an end to bloodshed in the country.