Libya: UN sends more aid as Security Council debates crimes against humanity

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo briefs Security Council on issue of possible crimes against humanity committed in Libya

4 May 2011 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor will ask the court’s judges to issue arrest warrants for three people who he said seem to bear the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity committed in Libya since a pro-democracy movement emerged in mid-February.

As United Nations humanitarian agencies continued today to deliver aid to civilians caught up in the ongoing conflict in the North African country, Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the Security Council in a statement that “in the coming weeks” he will apply to the ICC’s pre-trial chamber for the arrest warrants.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said the evidence collected so far by investigators working for his office “has confirmed the fears and concerns” in the Council resolution adopted on 26 February that referred the situation in Libya to the ICC.

“The evidence collected establishes reasonable grounds to believe that widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population have been and continue to be committed in Libya, including murder and persecution as crimes against humanity,” he said.

Evidence indicates that security forces have shot at peaceful protesters in multiple locations and that the Government hired mercenaries and brought them into the country, the statement noted. Torture, killings and enforced disappearances have also been reported.

“The efforts to cover up the crimes have made it difficult to ascertain the precise number of victims but there is credible information that estimates that, just as the result of such shootings, 500 to 700 persons died in February alone.

“It is difficult to estimate the numbers because dead bodies were removed from streets and hospitals. Doctors were not allowed to document the number of dead and injured admitted to hospitals after the violent clashes began.

“Security forces were allegedly stationed in the hospitals and arrested injured individuals who sought medical treatment. Being injured became evidence of opposing the regime, and challenging the authority of the regime is a crime under Libyan law. To avoid punishment and risk of death, some protesters sought medical attention in private homes and did not bring injured or dead persons to the hospitals.”

Noting that armed conflict has been taking place since the end of February, the Prosecutor added that “there is also relevant information on the alleged commission of war crimes,” including the use of imprecise weaponry such as cluster weapons, multiple rocket launchers and mortars in crowded urban areas, particularly the city of Misrata.

“There are also reports of forces blocking humanitarian supplies. Some sources have also reported the use of civilians as human shields and the torture of prisoners of war or civilians in the context of the armed conflict.”

UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations are continuing to deliver assistance to those in need, despite the ongoing insecurity caused by the conflict.

About 1,000 migrants are expected to be evacuated today by ship from Misrata, where fighting has been especially heavy, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

About 180 tons of food, water and infant supplies will also be delivered today, bringing the total of supplies of humanitarian aid to more than 3,000 tons.

OCHA remains extremely concerned about the situation in Misrata, where fighting has raged for more than six weeks. Access to food, water and other supplies is limited in some parts of the city, and many medical facilities are short of trained personnel.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN envoy highlights need to work out details of ceasefire to end Libyan conflict

Related Stories





More videos »


In-depth Interviews